In a rare matriarchal cinematic event, the actress Lea Thompson directs her two daughters, Madelyn and Zoey Deutch, in “The Year of Spectacular Men,” a comedy about sisters set adrift for their terrible 20s. Izzy (Madelyn Deutch) is the elder sister, a college graduate in limbo after the recent suicide of her father. In mourning, she decides to commit to youthful disorientation, embarking on a year of part-time gigs and one-night stands. Her inconstancy is thrown into sharp contrast by her movie-star sibling, Sabrina (Zoey Deutch), who shepherds Izzy through her exploits with Type A efficiency.
Though “The Year of Spectacular Men” never quite reaches comedic elegance, this heavily scripted movie is not as flat-footed as the hapless Izzy. There is a tuneful rhythm to the dialogue that might have been lost in a looser comedy, and the pleasure of watching actors throw lines back and forth is particularly evident in scenes between Izzy and Sabrina, whose chemistry reflects their real-life sibling bond.
But the script, by Madelyn Deutch, is uneven, and for every punch line that lands, another undermines good timing with dated references and clichés. When the awkward clangers are kept between siblings, they are easy to tune out. But when Izzy and Sabrina turn their sights to their mother, Deb (Lea Thompson), and her romance with a female yoga instructor, the script’s cracks about New Age lesbians strike a sour note in this mostly sweet affair. Even in such spotty passages, it is the movie’s saving grace that its family acting troupe faces the gobbledygook with openhearted silliness and sincerity.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 42 minutes.