Lea Thompson's first film as a director -- a brisk, breezy, sharp-elbowed, sexually frank, occasionally shout-y, often hilarious comedy -- stars the performer's own daughters and plays like both a raucous family party and an urgently necessary corrective. Despite its title, The Year of Spectacular Men is above all else about women, about sisters. And despite a couple of swoony first kisses and a pair of jubilantly comic sex scenes, the romance in this somewhat romantic comedy is between family members: Older sis Izzy (Madelyn Deutch, who wrote the script), just graduated from college and not sure what she wants from this life, finds her way to opening herself more fully to the younger Sabrina (Zoey Deutch), a film actress whose romances fascinate TMZ. Thompson and screenwriter Deutch center their young women's choices, desires, mistakes, disappointments and work in a welcome parody of Hollywood's treatment of young women.
It's one of those muddling-toward-adulthood movies, an indie that's a little rough at the edges (cars passing by on a street somehow distract from one crucial speech) but also sunnily commercial in its look and tone, its bopping rhythms and epigrammatic chatter, its upbeat soundtrack, its scenes of sexual disasters, its "So, did you sleep with him?" city-street walk-and-talks, its conviction that quinoa is fundamentally alien and comic. The Deutch sisters make an electric screen pairing, their scenes crackling with complex affection and exasperation. They win laughs even between their scripted jokes: an eye roll, a cackle, a sense that they know each other so well that they're annoyed or amused in anticipation of what the other will do next. It's infectious and invigorating.