“Be gay, do crime” exhorts a popular internet meme, a suggestion that married writing/directing duo David Joseph Craig and Brian Cano take literally in I Don’t Understand You, an Italy-set travelogue of errors in which a little bit (okay, alot) of bloodshed is just a speed bump on the journey to getting what you want. 

Nick Kroll (Big Mouth) and Andrew Rannells (Girls) star as Dom and Cole, prospective parents in the running to adopt from a ready-to-pop birth mother, Candice (Amanda Seyfried) who is eager to find the right couple to raise her unborn child, but still undecided. Having suffered through the process going awry once, the husbands are reasonably nervous about their shot this time around, but head off on a romantic Italian vacation to take their mind off things and celebrate their tenth anniversary. After Candice informs them that they’re the exact right fit to raise the new life she’s bringing into the world, Dom and Cole have to hightail it back to the states to meet the bundle of joy, but a series of escalating complications threatens to keep them from becoming the parents they yearn to be. 

Craig and Cano draw from their real-life experiences of anniversary trip setbacks and their own horror story with adoption fraud, but a weighty trauma metaphor this is not: I Don’t Understand You is a laugh riot first and foremost and takes misunderstandings, translation snafus, and absurd twists to unexpectedly black-hearted, gut-busting ends while also poking fun at the foolishness of Americans abroad. Even so, there’s a tenderness that cuts through the lunacy thanks to Kroll and Rannells who bring their A-game to a relatively simple premise. The two slip into their roles as if they’ve inhabited them for years – radiating a palpable sense of comfort mixed with underlying conflict that feels all-too relatable for a couple heading into their second decade of marriage and aren’t quite sure they’re ready for the next phase. Morgan Spector (The Plot Against America) rounds out the relatively limited cast which also features a handful of excellent Italian actors (Nunzia Schiano, Fabio Salerno, and The White Lotus’ Elonara Romandini are standouts) who, the less said about their roles the better. 

Craig and Cano let their screenplay (and what one can only assume is a healthy amount of improvisation) do the talking, with smart yet simple directorial choices to build tension that don’t distract from the performances or story at hand. It’s refreshing to see a film that doesn't punish gay characters for being bad, and the fact that those characters are prospective parents dealing with all the fraught emotions that process entails is just blood-spatter on the Cannoli cake. 

I Don’t Understand You is lighter fare for horror fans, but has bloody surprises in store for those willing to take this very bad, very funny trip. See it with your nearest and dearest and plenty of Grappa. Salute!

Movie Score: 3.5/5

  • Rocco T. Thompson
    About the Author - Rocco T. Thompson

    Rocco T. Thompson is a writer and critic based in Austin, Texas. His work is frequently featured in Rue Morgue where he penned the cover story for the magazine's first ever Queer Fear special issue, and he served as producer for In Search of Darkness: Part III, the final installment in the popular ‘80s horror documentary series.