Jesse Eisenburg has spent the vast majority of his career serving as the edgier, thinking man’s version of Michael Cera; trafficking in the same foot in mouth social awkwardness of the Superbad star but with an antagonistic edge that often blurs the line between amusing and abrasive. In The Spoils, his new play just opened at Trafalgar Studio, he cranks both of these qualities up to eleven for his portrayal of Ben; a monster of a millennial.
Ben is an aspiring experimental filmmaker, whose belief that “any film released commercially is necessarily compromised” is somewhat undercut by the fact he lives in an apartment bought for him by his father (“a prick” is all we get to hear about him). He spends his time primarily smoking weed and alternating between savagely mocking and obsessively complimenting his saint-like Nepalese roommate (Kunal Nayyar, excellent) and proclaimed “only friend” who lives in the apartment free of charge. This co-dependency is challenged after Ben’s chance meeting with an old school friend (Alfie Allen, sporting a rather dire American accent) who’s getting married to Ben’s preschool crush, whom a jealous Ben resolves to steal away.
The Spoils never stops getting laughs and Eisenberg in particular is on blisteringly good form, but due to a slightly woolly plot (long on fantastic monologues, short on that much actually happening) and an infuriating ending that feels tacked on and unearned, it feels relatively inessential. Eisenberg fans will find plenty to love, and lovers of razor sharp dialogue should be delighted by the viciousness on display here (a particularly scatological fantasy manages to not only bring the house down twice but also serve vital plot importance) but going in with high expectations may spoil The Spoils.