Though one would have to categorize it as a romantic comedy, Andrew Bujalski’s latest doesn’t act like a typical example of the genre, and that’s all to the good. “Results” also scores by providing a rare leading role for long-time second-tier player Kevin Corrigan—one that suits his shambling, goofy persona perfectly—while surrounding him with quartet of engaging actors to afford him the kind of support he’s so long given others.
The script is focused around an Austin gym, run by enthusiastic trainer Trevor (Guy Pearce), who espouses a philosophy called Power 4 Life. His most popular employee is Kat (Cobie Smulders), a super-fit woman who’s sometimes a mite too aggressive, accosting, for example, one deadbeat client on the street. But though the two bicker like Tracy and Hepburn, they’re obviously simpatico, though not a couple (even if they once were): Trevor is much too focused on building a larger facility based on his training philosophy for a serious personal relationship, and he spends his nights alone—except for his dog—watching the cable commercials of the man he aspires to emulate—Russian Grigory (Anthony Michael Hall), who’s apparently making good money hawking his personal brand of fitness kettlebells. (It’s not clear how Kat spends hers.)
Enter Danny (Corrigan), a beefy, just-divorced New Yorker who’s settled into an Austin mansion after inheriting a lot of money from his mother, who unbeknownst to him had wed a rich Texan before expiring. Lonely and bored in his nearly-vacant place, and pretty much incapable of doing anything himself (he even has to pay a serviceman to turn on his new flat-screen TV), he happens into Trevor’s establishment, totally out of shape and looking to buy a program that could, as he puts it, let him take a punch without keeling over. After some argument, Kat gets the assignment and goes to Danny’s place to begin their sessions in the elaborate home gym he’s assembled.
But Danny’s not all that serious about exercising: he still eats food he shouldn’t, and ventures out to bars to enjoy a beer, during one such outing meeting a lawyer so sloppily dressed that he mistakes him for a drug dealer (Giovanni Ribisi). And when it comes to his Power 4 Life program (for which he’d paid years in advance), it quickly becomes apparent that he’s more interested in Kat than in treadmills and weightlifting. She’s a total professional, of course, and finds his clumsy attempts at romancing her—a catered dinner accompanied by live music—totally inappropriate, which threatens the windfall his business has brought to Trevor, who’d hoped to use it to build the bigger place he’s dreamed of. In one of the picture’s typically quirky turns, though, Danny and Trevor become pals, and Danny even agrees to fund Trevor’s fantasy gym. In the end, though, that deal proves to be the means through which Trevor and Kat are finally brought together—an outcome in which both Danny and Grigory play a part. And if you go back to Danny’s initial meeting with Trevor, one scene near the close of the movie shows that he got what he originally bargained for, too.
What’s so pleasant about “Results” is that Bujalski toys with the conventions of typical romantic comedies in such a low-key, unassuming way that the pattern it’s following is barely perceptible until everything falls into place. In other words, it takes you by surprise—something that the genre rarely does. That’s due largely to Corrigan, whose amiable buffoonery is endearing rather than irritating, and in the end proves that Danny is a lot cagier than he appears. Pearce and Smulders are fine as a couple of hard-driving fitness devotees who seem incapable of realizing they’re meant for each other until prodded to do so by an unlikely source, and both Ribisi and Hall bring amusingly laid-back skill to their relatively few scenes.
With its unhurried, low-key tone (the editing is by Robin Schwartz) and a visual style that avoids Hollywood slickness (the production design is by Michael Bricker and the cinematography by Matthias Grunsky), Bujalski’s movie could never be mistaken for a studio product. But the droll way in which it simultaneously subverts and embraces the conventions of the romcom template makes it a genuine find. And it has happily found a way to put Corrigan at center stage in a part that’s a sort of apotheosis of the character he’s been honing on the sidelines for decades.