Though Jenica Bergere has been acting in films and television since the mid 1990s, Come Simi is the first film she has directed and written (it was co-written by Doc Pedrolie). Come Simi is a fictionalized take on Bergere’s actual pregnancy focusing on her anxiety over her impending motherhood at the same time she has to prepare for the death of her dying mother. Though the movie is a comedy, there is a warmth to the story that makes it the definition of a crowd-pleaser.
Jenica (Bergere) is a pregnant actress weeks away from giving birth who, in addition to the stresses of pregnancy, is responsible for taking care of her elderly mother Helene (Karen Landry). Helene has suffered multiple strokes and has dementia, which have left her wheelchair bound and nearly mute (although she certainly remembers how to say “fuck”). Helene’s sister Maxine (Fionnula Flanagan) wants to see her for the first time in eighteen years, so it’s left up to Jenica to take her. However, Jenica does not want to go alone and asks her ditzy porn star half-sister Dee Dee (1980s music video vixen Tawny Kitaen), whom she is similarly estranged from, to accompany her on the trip. Along the way Jenica wonders about the actual contents of a metal box that her mother carries with her, which she claims contains $50,000, and how that money — if real — can change her life. Come Simi is a road trip comedy combined with a generational story about how families drift apart and how life’s milestones can bridge those differences.
In a way, taking care of her disabled mother is great practice for Jenica for taking care of an infant, which is touched upon with the thematic undercurrent of her concerns about raising her baby. Though her mother’s condition makes her burdensome, Jenica is devoted to her. In fact, knowing that her mother will pass away soon seems to have put Jenica on edge. Throughout the film Jenica uses Go Pilot (voiced by Molly Shannon), a humorous navigation system that is seemingly as advanced as the operating system in Her. The Go Pilot serves as Bergere’s conscience and sounding board which makes it appear it’s all in her head — especially since neither her mother or sister react to it — until a scene late in the film showing her husband Josh (portrayed by comedian Joshua Funk) interacting with the Go Pilot. Though I liked the inclusion of Bergere’s “car conscience,” I thought this particular scene was an odd inclusion.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, one scene I was glad to see is a flashback scene featuring Landry’s character while she was still healthy because the contrast shows just how great her performance is in the rest of the film. Of course, the breakout star here is Tawny Kitaen. It’s been three decades since Bachelor Party and her Whitesnake music video days, and neither one of those required much in terms of acting besides, well, looking like Tawny Kitaen in the 1980s. That’s what makes her performance so impressive. Though it would be easy to portray Dee Dee as a typical ditz, Bergere deserves a lot of credit for giving Kitaen the chance to tackle such a complex role because she absolutely nails it.
At a breezy 74 minutes, Come Simi was a joy to watch. While it’s not a laugh-out-loud comedy, it’s a feel-good film that will make you think about the relationships in your own life. You might not be pregnant, have a disabled mother, or a sister who is an aging porn star, but your family certainly has plenty of its own issues that you’ll see reflected in Come Simi. As a result, it’s the rare film that manages to be both personal to its director, but also universal to the audience.