“Friended to Death”: The Second Life of an Online Demise

The comedy may be over-cranked in director Sarah Smick's feature debut, a dark critique of social-media dehumanization, but just imagine how insufferable it'd be if she'd gone the route of spartan art-house pretension instead. In a bold play for Paul Rudd or Will Ferrell territory, and an impressive high-wire walk between douchey and adorkable, Ryan Hansen stars as a Los Angeles meter maid who takes both his job and his Facebook page so seriously that no one likes him IRL. So, with reluctant help from a simpering sidekick (James Immekus), he fakes his own death online to see what people do. Friended to Death gets better once it gets on a roll, transcending canned production values and fondly harkening back to the guilty-pleasure movie romps of a pre-Internet era. Smick's script, co-written with Ian Michaels (with whom she also co-stars), never loses its pep or confidence in its priorities. Probing satire it's not, but then maybe we always get the style of mockery our age deserves. In this case, it won't kill you to click on a thumbs-up.

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