If you’ve ever seen Jenny Slate in anything, you know she can steal a scene. If you’ve seen Obvious Child, you know she can carry a movie. That she is a talented actor and comedian is not a secret. But watching the Landline trailer is the first time I’ve seen Jenny Slate and thought, “There, that is a movie star.” There’s a confidence, an ease of command, to how she appears in this trailer, and presumably, the movie it’s selling, that isn’t new, necessarily—Mona Lisa Saperstein demands a confident performer—but is amplified. Slate has carried a movie and she’s proved her ability in more serious fare, and now there is a sense that this is her time, and she knows it.
Landline was a hit at Sundance earlier this year, and is set for a July release, making it summer counter-programming right as franchise fatigue starts to set in. The first trailer has two big laughs (“Frisbee” and “sports drink”), and a lot of stuff in between that will make you smile. It’s not that I expect this kind of movie to be a runaway hit—although it would be fun to live in a world where it was—but Landline has “devoted cult following” stamped all over it. I’m just not sure who the cult will be: People actually nostalgic for the 1990s, or people who are post-ironically into 1990s nostalgia. Or maybe it will be Jenny Slate’s devoted following, as more people discover her. Chris Pine is having a moment right now after years of slowly building momentum. In a couple months, let’s see if Jenny Slate can do the same.