Sometimes you just get tired of scouring the streaming services in search of a film starring women or directed by a woman. Then you watch a comedy and hope for the best. Ashby is part comedy, part coming of age, part contract killer, and part end-of-life decisions.
If that description sounds improbable, it is. Everything about this film is improbable, but it’s cleverly so and refreshing in an improbable way.
Mickey Rourke is Ashby. He lives next door to Ed (Nat Wolff) and his single mom June (Sarah Silverman). Ashby has a brain tumor and weeks to live. He can no longer drive his car. Ed needs to write a term paper about an older person. This brings the two the them together. Ed drives Ashby around and they become acquainted.
Ashby tells Ed he earned his living selling napkins, but actually he was an assassin for the CIA. Ed discovers Ashby’s true history, but still earns a B+ with a paper about his neighbor the napkin salesman.
Ed becomes the wide receiver on the local football team. He’s a hero. A scrawny, cowardly hero.
He’s also a pretty good son to his mom. Mom’s longest scene is the one in which she explains to her 17 year-old about how much she likes sex and hopes for love. Ed does have a father, but as Ashby points out, the man is an arse.
This cowardly hero charms the only other brainy character in the high school, Eloise (Emma Roberts). Eloise has an MRI machine in her living room and scans the brains of all the football players on the regular.
Ashby has Ed drive him to see the priest (a man needs absolution, you know) and to do a couple of assassinations in the name of justice instead of patriotism. Those last necessities done, Ashby chooses a fitting way to reach the end of his life.
I told you the plot of this movie was improbable. But it was sweet and oddly innocent and light. If you are scrolling through the possibilities on Netflix or Amazon some evening, Ashby is harmless and has a certain charm.