Nov 20, 2023
Blow Up My Life is a cinematic unicorn in the thriller-comedy genre with undeniable humor and thrills with a capital T.
I enjoy watching corporate conspiracies play out on screen, especially when they involve Big Pharma. Recent adaptations have kept the tone heavily dramatic and serious for obvious reasons. There’s no room for thrills or comedy—why would there be? And if there was room, what would that look like? Would it even be successful? In short, yes. Blow Up My Life is 2023’s cinematic thriller-comedy unicorn, featuring healthily balanced moments of humor laced with non-stop thrills … and I mean Thrills.
Blow Up My Life is a dark comedy about a disillusioned man wrestling with his morality on doing the wrong thing to do the right thing. When disgraced pharmaceutical employee Jason Trumble (Jason Selvig, one half of the viral comedy duo The Good Liars) uncovers a bombshell of company corruption, he sets out in a rush to expose their wrongs and save millions of lives before they can dispose of him. As he goes on the run, he enlists the help of his computer-wiz cousin Charlie (Kara Young, of I’m a Virgo) and his journalist ex-girlfriend Priya (Reema Sampat, of Orange is the New Black). However, the man at the heart of the scandal has other plans.
Jason Trumble is an up-and-coming hotshot software designer at Furenza Pharmaceuticals. His claim to ego: the Doxie app, which is designed to help curb addition by controlling the dispensed dosage of opioid recovery drug Doxie. After posting an embarrassing, drug-fueled rant online one night, Furenza fires Jason and he subsequently loses everything, resorting to living in his “Burning Man van.”
To make ends meet, Jason turns to running his own computer and software repair business. When a serendipitous house call brings him face to face with his former boss, Gary (Davram Stiefler, the other half of The Good Liars)—who’s quite an arrogant jerk—Jason illegally copies Gary’s computer data. While sifting through the information, Jason uncovers damning evidence that the Doxie app is glitching, dispensing increased doses instead of decreased doses to people, causing them to become addicted, with the risk of overdose and death.
The whistleblower stuff is that Furenza knows and is choosing to keep quiet because revenue is through the roof and the glitch has become their key money-making tool. Corporate greedmesiters. When Jason confronts Gary about it, some wild, unexpected action happens that shocks viewers and redirects Jason’s focus to one thing: taking down Furenza … or as Charlie puts it, “F**k them before they f**k you.”
I was very pleasantly surprised with this film. From its screenplay to the acting to its balance in tone and technique, Blow Up My Life had my attention from its opening scene, which hooks viewers in with its graveyard setting, its 1940’s gumshoe-detective-style narration, and its lead actor. The narration is something I loved about this movie. Jason narrates his story into a tape recorder the whole time he’s on the run from Furenza. And this is where first-time, feature-length filmmakers Abigail Horton and Ryan Dickie go to work in tying in the levity not through the comedy itself but in the way it’s executed. It’s just genius, especially around this subject matter. It works really, really well and makes this viewing experience fun.
Jason, sweet and naïve in his lack of awareness, delivers his story in such an engaging, unironic, deadpan way that he adds just the right touch of comedy without being overtly “in your face” and without cheesy dialogue. He’s very sincere and realistic—so much, in fact, that it’s easy for us to forget we’re following a character and not a real person in real life just trying to do the right thing. Selvig does a superb job at bringing an authentic level of humanity to Jason that viewers can’t help but feel sympathy for him.
Kara Young also weaves in the levity with her character, Charlotte August (aka Charlie). Most of the time we see her, she’s on a computer screen hashing out Jason’s next movie with him regarding the conspiracy. It is she who calls out his naivete and helps clear a path to exposure and escape for him. She stands as the voice of reason when Jason wants to give up, kicking his ass back into action with her exciting “damn the man” speeches.
The chemistry between Young and Selvig is palpable and delightful—they effortlessly feed of one another’s creative energy.
But just because Blow Up My Life features levity does not mean it’s a light-hearted movie; quite the contrary. The thrills here involve life and death, non-stop close calls, and incriminating accidents. Surprisingly, though, the tragedy in this story comes not in overdoses but in wondering if Jason and Charlie will succeed and knowing what will happen if they fail.
Another thing I loved about this movie is the soundtrack—music by P. Rose. The music paired with this story gave me an 80’s Teen Wolf vibe in the way the music helped to drive any action and mischief that’s happening on screen. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Could there have been a better soundtrack? No.
Overall, Blow Up My Life is a nice change of pace from stories like Dopesick, and it has all the elements making up a must-see film: an excellent plot; effortless acting; a great soundtrack; nicely done editing; carefully explored cinematography; thrills, action, and comedy; a relevant message; an awesome screenplay; and an ending that leaves you breathless. You really can’t go wrong in this selection, which is riveting from start to finish and sure to be a classic.
Blow Up My Life releases on digital platforms on Tuesday, November 21, 2023.
Keeley Brooks is a big ole movies, television, and streaming nerd with a voracious appetite for entertainment consumption and an uncontrollable urge to write about everything she watches, even if it sucks.