Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

{Better Living Through Chemistry opens in Seattle on Friday, 3/14, and is screening at SIFF Cinema Uptown and Sundance Cinemas Seattle}

The title says it all, even though it’s kind of messed up: take drugs, let loose, and your life will vastly improve … okay, it’s not exactly like that, but Better Living Through Chemistry does feature a protagonist that experiences a (mostly) positive life change after taking a crap-load of drugs.

Douglas Varney (Sam Rockwell) is a meek pharmacist who’s just taken over his father-in-law’s business in a small, picturesque town. Varney is clearly dissatisfied with his home life. His wife treats him like shit, his son prefers to call him by his first name, and his FIL can’t be bothered to change the name of the pharmacy from Bishop’s to Varney’s—even though Douglas is now the legal owner.

Enter Elizabeth Roberts (Olivia Wilde), the gorgeous and very, very, VERY bored wife of a rich dude who has money to burn and a jones for some serious Rx. It doesn’t take long for Elizabeth to convince Douglas to start taking his own product, and they both use it to excess while engaging in a lot of sex in her fancy convertible, among other places.

Varney’s drug experimentation wins him the courage to stand up to his wife, fixes his relationship with his son, helps him claim the pharmacy as his — basically completely transform himself into someone awesome—right before catapulting him into despair when he thinks he’s murdered someone.

While Chemistry doesn’t feel that original, credit is due its stellar cast for making me laugh several times. Rockwell is almost always amazing, but he totally kills it in this role, as does Wilde, who’s quickly becoming one of my favorite people to see on screen. And if co-directors and writers Geoff Moore and David Posammentier had removed the unnecessary narration voiced by Jane Fonda (who otherwise isn’t in the movie, except for a quick glimpse towards the end), I probably would have enjoyed it even more.

Worth your cinema dollars? Sure, it’s enjoyable enough. All I know is, it’s 1000x better than the last film I saw in a theater …