The jokes in ‘No Filter’ are wrung dry

It’s easy to drive a joke into the ground. “No Filter,” for some reason, makes it a point to do so. Every gag, and there are many, are super hit-and-miss. Truthfully, some of the funniest moments in the movie happen early on. It has the patina of a studio comedy, always flirting with edginess but never getting there. As it goes on, the movie gets weaker, but the charismatic Paz Bascunan picks up the slack that her co-stars leave behind.

Pia (Paz Bascunan, “Alma”) is a middle-aged, down-on-her-luck, marketing firm representative. Her husband ignores her, she isn’t respected at work by her boss or coworkers, and, when she’s not being ignored, she’s constantly inconvenienced by everyone around her. Constant chest pain and a regiment of pills sends her to the doctor where she finds out that all her pent-up rage is bound to kill her and the only cure is to let it all out.

Pia’s not a hard character to wrap your head around. But “No Filter” spends a lot of time with the “down-on-her-luck” part. It’s the Rodney Dangerfield school of comedy. “I don’t get no respect” rings true through most of the movie, but it gets tiring just thirty minutes into the movie. The repetition is jarring, to be certain, but any fans of the James Franco and Seth Rogen school of improv won’t likely be off-put.

When stuff hits the fan, Pia confronts all these people. And while she does get brutal, the movie’s tone is too positive to let her get truly mean. In that way, it lacks the edge that it really needs. But it’s not all bad. There are some hilarious moments, and it’s easy to admire the weird progressive world that director Nicolas Lopez has created.

The true draw of the movie is Paz Bascunan’s performance as Pia. While the movie has the generic sheen of a studio comedy, Bascunan brings honesty to her character’s very real pain. In an especially poignant moment, Pia shares a hug with her ex. She nestles against him as if it’s the first time in years. More than anything, bordered by generic side character, she carries the movie on her own.

With a few gut-busting moments, “No Filter” is just funny enough to not feel like a waste of time. It takes a bit to gather momentum, and when it does, it’s a fun ride. It wouldn’t be as fun, however, without the Paz Bascunan’s presence. It doesn’t have the bite of a great comedy, but it’s got the filtered fun of a worthwhile one.