Comedian Whitney Cummings was every bit the engaging artist as she introduced her directorial debut, “The Female Brain,” at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Saturday evening.
She briefly spoke about choosing to adapt Louann Brizendine’s nonfiction book, The Female Brain, as her first film, so eloquently describing it as a modern day “Magic School Bus.” “And if you are too young to know what The Magic School Bus is,” she went on to say, “Then I hate you.”
“The Female Brain” is a vignette-style romantic comedy that looks at the lives of different couples in varying stages of their relationship. Unlike other generic rom-com’s, however, “The Female Brain” focuses on the fact-based situations and pitfalls that arise when primal neurology meets passionate or unrequited love. In other words, Cummings is giving audiences a lesson on why we do the things we do in relationships, breaking down the stereotypes women face by blaming it on science!
As the anchor of the film, Cummings plays the neuroscientist Julia Brizendine, a type-A woman who rigidly controls her daily habits in order to get the necessary chemicals she “technically” needs to live a happy life. This includes hanging out with friends, working out, staying organized, and other things that give off different types of endorphins without engaging in a romantic relationship (because why would anyone willingly put themselves through the dating scene?). Her plan gets thrown off when she meets Kevin (Toby Kebbell), a participant in one of her research groups who attempts to woo her despite her stance on romance.
As a woman, I could personally relate to more moments in the film than I would like to admit, but “The Female Brain” doesn’t appeal to just women.
The rest of the cast plays like a who’s who of comedians, Broadway hotshots, and NBA superstars. Lisa (Sofia Vergara) and her husband Steven (Deon Cole) struggle with diminishing sex appeal and connection, Greg (Blake Griffin) and Zoe (Cecily Strong) are newlyweds that are still figuring out the balance of power within the relationship, and Adam (James Marsden) and his girlfriend Lexi (Lucy Punch) struggle with boundary issues. Guest appearances from Beanie Feldstein and Ben Platt are as surprising as they are delightful.
The humor ebbs and flows throughout the film, a few moments playing to the lowest brow of comedy, but overall the tone of” The Female Brain” is both fun and informative. The addition of animated brain diagrams, which pop up throughout the film, help to digest the scientific information more easily.
As a woman, I could personally relate to more moments in the film than I would like to admit, but “The Female Brain” doesn’t appeal to just women. The men sitting next to me laughed just as much through the film as I did, proving two things: one, Whitney Cummings’ humor translates from the stage comedian to big screen director and two, we’re all just humans looking for love, trying to keep the love alive, or slowly realizing that we’re all doomed because we will eventually end up acting like our parents.