Tuesday (2024)

Lola Petticrew and Julia Louis-Dreyfus star in the supernatural “Tuesday.”

Maudlin ‘Tuesday’ is definitely for the birds

After wasting a Wednesday on “Tuesday,” I feel it my duty to warn you not to do the same – on any day of the week. Oy vey, what a hot mess!

A meditation on death and dying, Daina O. Pusić’s feature debut bears all the hallmarks of a sci-fi fantasy concocted as it goes along. Little of it makes sense and that includes the lingering question of why someone as talented as Julia Louis-Dreyfus got involved.

She plays Zora, the living-in-denial mother of the title character, a terminally ill teenager literally at death’s beak. Yes, you read that right, beak! You see, Pusić – in a burst of surreal inspiration – has transformed the traditional black-hooded, scythe-wielding Grim Reaper into a rap-loving macaw with an amazing ability to convert himself into any size he wishes, from mammoth to minuscule.

His patrons/victims, whatever you choose to call them, seem to instantly recognize the old bird without batting an eye. And so it is with Tuesday (a bland Lola Petticrew looking closer to 25 than 15). But before she succumbs, she has one request: that Death delay the inevitable until Zora returns from yet another attempt to flee her grief.

You would think that Death, given his tight schedule, would be loath to grant such favors. But after Tuesday regales him with a lame bird joke he’s cool with waiting. More so after Tuesday treats him to a sampling of Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day.” “A classic,” the macaw proclaims. Oh, did I fail to mention Tuesday’s new feathered friend talks? Yes, and in the deep, husky tones of actor Arinzé Kene. Perhaps a little too gravelly.

At times, I was struggling to decipher what he was saying. But not as much as I was laboring to grasp Pusić’s objective as her film grew increasingly more bizarre. It had to be something deeper than a parent realizing her worst fear of watching her child die. But it’s not. And I was even more confounded by why she would further conceal her inscrutable intent beneath layers of rudimentary special effects, allowing both the bird and Zora to shrink and expand at will.

I was impressed by the combined skills of Pusić and her DP, Alexis Zabé, to convincingly depict the size changes on such a limited budget. Yet, it’s for naught. It’s more of a distraction, as I found myself less intrigued by the characters’ interactions than by how Pusić and Zabé pulled it off. And if I might digress, how is it possible that Zora’s clothing automatically adapts to fit her shifting size?

That’s not all. I also pondered why the daughter of a mother with a generic American accent possessed a heavy Irish brogue. And why does the wheelchair-bound Tuesday require oxygen tubes at the start of the movie and then never again? More importantly, why does a “dying” girl appear so healthy and perky?

All these contradictions begin to add up, leaving you shaking your head as interest wanes to the degree that the big, tear-jerker ending elicits neither sadness nor empathy. You’re merely relieved that the ordeal – for us, not Tuesday – is over.

If not for Louis-Dreyfus, summoning another powerful performance, “Tuesday” would be unwatchable. Dare I say, worse than death?

Movie review


Rated: R for language

Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lola Petticrew, Leah Harvey and Arinzé Kene

Director: Daina O. Pusić

Writer: Daina O. Pusić

Runtime: 111 minutes

Where: In theaters June 14

Grade: C-

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