Danny happened to come into come into some money right after his wife left him, so he decided to hire a personal trainer and get into shape. But he doesn't really want to change; he liked sitting around, eating pizza and smoking pot, and he kind of suspects it's too late to win his wife back anyway. But then again he doesn't want to stop his training sessions because his trainer Kat is young and fit and nice to him and he likes spending time with her. But then again he doesn't want to put himself in a bad spot if he can avoid it and he kind of knows that she isn't going to sleep with him because she's younger than him and hotter than him and only nice to him because that's her job.
Meanwhile Kat has some problems of her own, too, beyond the fact that her newest client wants to cross a serious professional / personal line. For one she has anger management issues. She is really supportive and encouraging to her clients until they disappoint her, at which point she goes off the deep end. And she recognizes that it isn't good to yell at people, particularly if those people are her customers, but then again, the quitters kind of deserve it because quitting is a shitty thing to do...
Meanwhile Kat's boss Trevor is also struggling, and not just because he has to deal with all of Kat's unhappy clients. His main problem is that he loves Kat but he can't be honest with her about his feelings because he has real intimacy issues. But he doesn't want to admit that he's a little too closed off for his own good because he wants to be upbeat about everything; even one flaw would kick a hole in the wall he's built using the power of positive thinking. Plus he has good reasons for being a little aloof from her: for one he's worried what people will think if they know he's sleeping with an employee, and besides, Kat really is kind of abrasive.
Results is a comedy about Danny, Kat and Trevor's love triangle, but it's about much more than that. Specifically, it is about all the stories we tell ourselves about how we want to get better, and about all the ways in which we actually do try to get better, and it is about all of the ways in which we keep ourselves from improving because we secretly like being imperfect. It is about the trade off between our short term interests and our long term desires, between pizza and fitness, between therapeutic outbursts and long term employment, between fun one night stands and difficult to maintain ongoing relationships. In other words, it's a comedy about why being an adult is such a goddamned mindfuck sometimes.
And as such it is a movie that really hit home with me, because these are issues that I think about all the time. For example, lately I’ve been wishing that I was more ambitious – I have a gnawing suspicion that I’ve settled when I should have pushed forward. But then again I like the fact that I live a low key life; I enjoy being relaxed. But then again I would probably be a little more relaxed if I had a little bit more money because then I wouldn’t have to worry so much about how I would survive if one or two big things happened to go wrong. But then again if I had all the money in the world I would still probably worry because the human mind was built to stress out over every imaginable negative outcome and I’d still be stuck with my brain even if I got rich. Which is to say that I’m a lot like Danny, who did, in fact, become rich, and who still couldn’t find the energy to overcome his general apathy.
Of course, there are a lot of movies about guys like Danny (and like me), and if Results was just about us malcontent middle aged white dudes it would be a ripe target for anti-male entitlement sarcasm. Fortunately, Results is not another mid-life crisis movie, in large part because Danny is only a third of the movie. After all, Kat isn’t suffering from suburban malaise or neurotic self-doubt - no, her frustration stems from the fact the world doesn’t live up to her high standards and because it pisses her off when her male clients keep misinterpreting her surface level niceness as flirting. And Trevor is on the opposite end of the spectrum as Danny entirely, not just because he’s in peak physical form but because he knows exactly what he wants and he has the willpower to go after it. But he also knows that getting it won’t make him happy…
Which gets at something deep about why self-improvement can be such a bastard – it is almost impossible to really define what “improvement” means. I grew up on a steady diet of animal fables where some unfortunate beast would get into a jam, then it would figure out what it had to do to escape, then magic would happen and the story would wrap up with a succinct “and that’s how a porcupine got its spikes!” moral. And while those are pleasing bedtime stories they aren’t exactly realistic because evolution is a lot uglier and sloppier than that. I’m sure that snakes wish they weren’t cold blooded on cold days and I'm sure that koala’s wish that they could digest any foods other than eucalyptus – but those are empty wishes. The world’s reptiles probably aren’t going to speed up their metabolism and the world’s pickiest eaters probably aren’t going to grow new stomachs anytime soon. Similarly, Danny is probably never really going to become the good husband he wants to be, and Kat is probably never going to be the serene sensei her clients want her to be, and Trevor is definitely never going to become Superman no matter how many squats he does. And I’m probably never going to be confident that I’ve found the right balance between comfort and complacency, either.
It makes sense that Results is set in a gym because gyms are the place where our potential and our reality are the most likely to collide. Gyms are where we find out just how hard we are willing to work for perfection, how quickly we are willing to settle for good enough, or whether we are even interested in trying to better ourselves at all. They are where New Years Resolutions either become life habits or low level regrets. They are where we discover whether the spirit is willing while the flesh is weak or vice versa. In other words, they are where human beings discover the limits of their own humanity.
And I suppose they are also where fit weirdos find love, but that has definitely not been my experience. But then again, I’m a Danny type and we aren’t really gym people.