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‘Dark Horse’

by Giovanni Fazio

Todd Solondz never makes comfortable films, and “Dark Horse” is no exception, featuring as its protagonist an overweight, overbearing 30-something nebbish named Abe (Jordan Gelber) who’s a toy-collector nerd and still living at home with his parents.

Classic comedy-loser material, in other words, but Solondz (“Welcome to the Dollhouse,” “Happiness”) takes his usual ambiguous stance, showing Abe to be as sympathetic as he is plain pathetic. Did Abe’s parents (played by Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken) mess him up? Yes. Is Abe using that as an excuse to not grow up, to linger in arrested development and guilt-trip his parents into supporting him? You betcha.

Change rears its head when Abe meets Miranda (an excellent Selma Blair) at a wedding, but he’s too caught up in his own vision of sweeping her off her feet to notice that a.) proposing marriage on a first kinda-sorta-date screams “crazy,” and b.) depressive Miranda is too heavily medicated to give him a clear “no” for an answer.

The film gets progressively weirder as we realize certain scenes are only playing out inside Abe’s deluded head. Solondz plays this for some uncomfortable laughs, like a Judd Apatow flick on ketamine, but never just that.