Friended to Death

The comedy may be over-cranked in director Sarah Smick’s feature debut, a dark critique of social-media dehumanization, but just imagine how insufferable it’d be if she’d gone the route of spartan art-house pretension instead. In a bold play for Paul Rudd or Will Ferrell territory, and an impressive highwire walk between douchey and adorkable, Ryan Hansen stars as a Los Angeles meter maid who takes both his job and his Facebook page so seriously that no one likes him IRL. So, with reluctant help from a simpering sidekick (James Immekus), he fakes his own death online to see what people do. You can guess that broad, zinger-peppered hijinks ensue; less obvious from the outset is how Friended to Death gets better once it gets on a roll, transcending canned production values and fondly harkening back to the guilty-pleasure movie romps of a pre-Internet era. Smick’s script, co-written with Ian Michaels (with whom she also co-stars), never loses its pep or confidence in its priorities. As probing satire, it’s hardly Chayevsky-grade stuff, but then maybe we always get the style of mockery our age deserves. In this case, it won’t kill you to click on a thumbs-up.