There are three basic stories that constitute the film, which recalls the multi-layered, somewhat enervated spirit of Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" especially given the LA-based ennui both films portray with accuracy. The first story deals with step-siblings Mamie, who as a teenager, had a one-night stand with her stepbrother Charley. Years later, Mamie is an abortion clinic worker, while Charley, gay and partnered contently with Gil for five years, runs their long-dead parents' last remaining restaurant. Both siblings have their own storyline - Mamie meets Nicky, a grungy filmmaker who wants her to participate in a film about meeting someone from her past. However, she convinces Nicky to make another film entirely about her intermittent lover Javier's massage practice.
The second story revolves around Charley's obsession with the paternity of a son which their lesbian best friends have just conceived. This leads to unexpected revelations that backfire on Charley. The third story focuses on Otis, a closeted teenage drummer who works at Charley's restaurant. Otis meets Jude, a vagabond singer who favors Billy Joel ballads and beds Otis in order to have a place to crash. Once established in the palatial home, she also attaches herself to Otis's divorced father Frank. It all sounds complicated and sometimes feels quite erratic, but Roos makes the film intriguing to watch.
The acting certainly helps. As Mamie, Lisa Kudrow again shows how she can use her somewhat flaky persona in an arresting way that can be funny and heartbreaking. Steve Coogan effectively brings out Charley's neuroses, while Jesse Bradford is convincingly suspect as Nicky. The underutilized Laura Dern doesn't really have much to do as one-half of the lesbian couple (Sarah Clarke is the other half), while Bobby Cannavale gamely brings out the swarthy gamesmanship of Javier. Jason Ritter (the look-alike son of the late John Ritter) plays Otis with the right amount of confusion and anxiety. As the bonhomous Jude, Maggie Gyllenhaal (Jake's sister) gives a shrewd performance that never borders on the obvious, while Tom Arnold surprises with a subtle turn as the comparatively innocent Frank.
The DVD has an alternate commentary track with Roos, Kudrow and cinematographer Clark Mathis, as well as ten deleted scenes of varying quality and three scenes that constitute the lacking gag reel. During the final film's lengthy 128-minute running time, there are scenes that seem to drift with no reason and character motivations that go unexplained. Regardless, the film is definitely worth seeing.