There’s beauty in the bromance on-screen of “On the Count of Three,” which debuted Friday night at the virtual Sundance Film Festival.
The dramedy, which also serves as the directorial debut of stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael, spends a tumultuous day with two lifelong friends. Both have found themselves mired in depression and can’t visualize a way out.
Val (Carmichael) hatches a plan and springs his best friend Kevin (Christopher Abbott) from the mental institution where he’s been convalescing. He’s there against his will – since his last suicide attempt. The two hatch a suicide pact. But not before spending one last day tying up loose ends, exacting revenge on foes and joyriding on dirt bikes.
Though dry, comedic moments pepper the story (the anti-gun Kevin mutters about lack of coherent weapons legislation before holding up a convenience store). The film itself is a study in the feeling of hopelessness that often accompanies depression. What led Carmichael to launch his film directing career with the more serious fare. Rather than a comedy in line with his more broad NBC television series, “The Carmichael Show”?
Carmichael said while he was on track to keep doing such fare, the weight of “On the Count of Three” appealed to him.
“I’ve always been infatuated with getting more complicated thoughts to broader audiences,” said the star in a Sundance Q&A that followed the film’s debut. “It’s the reason ‘The Carmichael Show’ was technically a family sitcom. I used it to kind of Trojan Horse these topics we found interesting. So it just feels natural. It feels right. And with the film, it just felt like a natural progression of like, truth.”