Meet Jill (Marianna Palka). She’s a housewife with four children. She keeps them dressed, well fed, gets them to their schools, cleans the house, does the laundry and makes dinner although her husband hardly makes it home on time to have it. Jill is miserable. She wants to go on this painting retreat and clear her head off. But that’s not happening so she’s trying to hang herself from the ceiling.
Meet Bill (Jason Ritter). He’s screwing a co-worker on company time. He’s postponing meetings and he will get across to doing his work eventually. When an entire floor is being sacked and Bill loses his fuck buddy, he tries to save her job. His boss is completely ok with rehiring that entire floor, as long as Bill resigns. Bill is not resigning. And his wife just asked him if she could go on a silly painting retreat. How selfish of her.
Welcome to director, writer and actress Marianna Palka’s Bitch. That title works in so many levels in this movie. The most obvious one is for Jill’s breakdown as she disappears from her life. She’s moved to the basement, where she barks, growls and snaps at anybody who’d come near her.
But there’s another, far more despicable, whining, self-deluded, egomaniac and worthy recipient: Bill himself. The more we get to know Bill and we do get to know him a lot, is too much. I have to give major compliments to Jason Ritter on creating the most useless self-serving chauvinistic slacker on screen. He’s literally the embodiment of a caricature, the trope of the husband who doesn’t know what schools his kids go to, their birthdays or the fact there’s still a kid in the car while he’s calling his wife a bitch.
Jill’s sister Beth (Jaime King) jumps into helping. But she soon realizes that she’s got little to no support from Bill, who finally gets an specialist to look at Jill. When she tells him that Jill needs special psychiatric care, he just demands a prescription so he can get his “selfish wife” to stop acting up and get back to her role as anchor of the family.
The kids are big part of the movie here. We get the sounds of the TV blaring cartoon noises in the background as the newly made single parent tries to do what he’s never done a day in his life: parenting. But it is heartbreaking when the kids realize how useless his dad is.
First is Max (Rio Mangini) who watches first hand when his father decides to bolt on a whim. Seeing the kid go angry at his dad when he comes back later is heart-wrenching. Then it’s Tiffany (Brighton Charbino – Lizzie from THE WALKING DEAD) when she tries to have a heart-to-heart chat with her father and realizes he’s tuning her out like he does with her mother.
But when Bill’s other woman shows up at the house, Beth is completely livid. It’s time to act and she finally does. Jill’s parents and Beth are taking this up with the authorities. They want full custody of Jill so they can give her proper care. And it’s time for Bill to grow up, grow a pair and be a parent to his kids. It’s time for Bill to stop acting like a little… ok, let’s leave it there.
Recommended for humour, satire and genuine self-reflection on the nuclear family. Actually, the one great thing about this movie is how bad you’ll want to punch Bill in the face, which is a great credit to Jason Ritter actin chops. You can see a hint of his father, the late comedian John Ritter, in some of the faces he pulls.
That will do for now.