This year’s Valentine’s Day marked the premiere of the Netflix Original film, Girlfriend’s Day. The story follows Ray, a once celebrated romantic greeting card writer turned has-been. But when a new holiday is announced, he is thrust into a bidding war between several big players in the industry who all demand that he make his comeback and write for them exclusively. It’s a dark comedy that makes you actually wish you knew more about the greeting card industry in hopes that the people who write such sappy limericks were indeed this cynical.
The premise is strange and might require at least a small amount of suspension of disbelief: as the film points out in the very beginning, the greeting card industry is a 3 billion dollar a year industry, so who is to say that no one has ever had their life threatened over a greeting card? Yet, while the story goes to hilariously ridiculous places, it never stops feeling real.
I was able to attend the Austin premiere which featured a Q&A with Stephenson and a Skype call in by the film’s star, co-writer, and producer Bob Odenkirk. While it runs short at a mere 65 minutes, Bob made it abundantly clear it was always meant to mirror the short run times of classic noir from the 40’s and 50’s. Sure enough, it has no dull moments and never takes a left turn just for the sake of run time.
Even while being so brief, the film features so many memorable characters. As Ray wanders from set piece to set piece, often not by choice, we meet a wide range of characters. Although this is not a traditional road movie, it bears positive similarities to the genre by constantly putting Ray in new unfamiliar situations with surreal characters along the way to reach his end goal. Every side character has a distinct personality and as soon as you start to miss them they come back for a double tap of laughs before the film ends.
All positives aside, there isn’t much here past its general premise. The writing is great but the story itself doesn’t really go anywhere and by the end Ray is still a loser, albeit not as pathetic as he was, but a loser none the less. All that being said, the film never wants to be anything more than what it is. It revels in its insanity and never tries to convey a message or even make a statement about the greeting card industry. It’s not for everyone, but it was definitely for me and if you’re a fan of dark comedies, character pieces, or even film noir this is absolutely worth your time. I give it 8 dimes and 1 nickel out of card with a dollar worth of coins inside.
Check out my interview with the director…
More about the director: Michael Paul Stephenson became attached to this project when Bob Odenkirk’s kids were fans of the cult film Troll 2. Stephenson was the child star of it and after he grew up and realized how many people loved to hate on the movie, he made his directorial debut by making the documentary Best Worst Movie. After that, he made another documentary called The American Scream, which focused on families who spend a year making haunted houses for Halloween.