“Better Living Through Chemistry”: A Pharmacist's Lusts, Uncapped

Better Living Through Chemistry Even without bearing in mind the 1996 Fatboy Slim record of the same name, and for that matter the retired 1935 DuPont slogan from which its title derived, this feature debut from the writer-director duo of Geoff Moore and David Posamentier does seem unfortunately diluted. The Better Living Through Chemistry on offer here is dispensed by a meek small-town pharmacist (Sam Rockwell) who, sick of being henpecked or ignored by his uptight wife (Michelle Monaghan), prescribes his own cure in the form of a doped-up Double Indemnity-esque scheme with the trophy wife (Olivia Wilde) of some distant moneybags (Ray Liotta). The opening credits play over a mildly risqué figurine-model suburbia, handily establishing a conventionally patronizing indie-flick attitude and the all-too-easy dark comedy that ensues. Also, Jane Fonda narrates, putting things in perspective with such lines as, “You'd change your tune too after being balls deep in a woman like Elizabeth.” Is it important to know that Moore and Posamentier's screenplay has attracted buzz since it cracked the top 20 of Hollywood's 2010 Black List, a roster of insiders' most liked scripts? Maybe, but then maybe it's also important to know that Fonda replaced Judi Dench in her role, and Wilde replaced Jennifer Garner in hers, and Rockwell replaced Jeremy Renner in his. Some chemicals, when combined, manage only to become inert.

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