In the hospital, he wakes to the face of Karen Hillridge (Parker Posey), a former student from Kundle’s advertising workshop twenty years prior. Karen is now in charge of marketing and glad-handing for the hospital, owes much of her success to Kundle, and jumps at the sight of him like a former groupie. Except beyond the natural intelligence that Greenwood radiates, Kundle has emerged from his stupor speaking exclusively in advertising slogans. Some of his comments seem oddly appropriate to the situation (“Got milk?”) while others become something of a zen koan in the moment (“Some of our best men are women”). And still others seem like utter gibberish.
It’s impossible to not think about Hal Ashby’s “Being There” in regards to this premise. While Chauncey Gardener was looked at as some sort of genius for his repetitive nonsense and common sense regurgitations, Adan is immediately declared a liability, treated like a simpleton and brushed to the side when adults are talking. While Gardener seemed to have no idea how his words were being received, Adan instead seems fully capable of grasping what he’s being told and when he’s being insulted, turning an air of ambiguity into simple formal messiness: what HAS happened to Adan, and how much of him is still inside? “And Now A Word From Our Sponsor” shows little interest in letting the audience in, even denying us an understanding of who Adan was before his disappearance, making us wonder if he knows what is or is not going on at his expense. And like the climactic moment in “Being There,” there’s a magical realist moment where an unplugged television still plays commercials for Adan’s pleasure.
This makes the film not just amiably vacant, but disreputable, for wasting the talents of Greenwood and Posey, two wonderfully game performers. Posey, a national treasure who has failed to land that perfect A-List vehicle, adds an ersatz nature to her fairly straightforward character, excelling at physical comedy while tossing sly barbs towards the cast: her scenes with Callum Blue blow him out of the water, but they also work as something of a highlight reel, watching Posey go to town on an undermanned male actor like Michael Jordan carving up the '90s-era Knicks. And Greenwood keeps his professional ad-man completely unflappable and infectiously watchable: a cute end-credits outtake reveals a unique alternate take of a certain scene where Greenwood reveals a striking singing voice while moving through a single-take sequence, only for the other actor in the scene to flub his only line. Says it all, really. [C]