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‘Spinster’: Chelsea Peretti widens her range in a sly comedy/drama

Sitcom actress plays an underachiever who mocks others’ lives but isn’t doing so great herself.         

Comedian Chelsea Peretti stars as an unhappy single woman in “Spinster.”
Vertical Entertainment

Perhaps my favorite throwaway line in any movie this year comes in “Spinster” when Chelsea Peretti’s Gaby is returning home after adopting a rescue pup and says to her next-door neighbor in deadpan fashion: “This is my new used dog.”

Too great.

Peretti, the talented writer and actor best known for role as the rapier-witted Gina Linetti on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” is in her comfort lane in Andrea Dorfman’s “Spinster,” a sly and low-key comedy/drama about a 39-year-old underachiever who shields her personal and professional insecurities in an armor of insults and putdowns and deliberately off-putting behavior. If you come out of the box commenting on everyone else’s lives and telling them what THEIR problems are, they’ll be so off-balance they won’t be able to critique you, right?

Recently dumped and unhappy with her job as a caterer, Gaby is drifting through life with a giant chip on her shoulder, in part because of an unhappy childhood and in part because, well, that’s just Gaby.

But hey, Gaby is TRYING to step up her social game. She remains close with her best friend Amanda (Susan Kent) even though they have less and less in common, what with Amanda being a married mother and Gaby being on her own. (When Gaby drops in unannounced and finds Amanda is having an all-couples dinner party, it’s only a matter of time before she butts heads with a thick-skulled married guy who prattles on about how selfish it is for a woman to go through life without committing to a relationship and giving birth.) She’s recently become close with her niece, Adele (Nadia Tonen), a kindred free spirit and fellow social outcast. And let’s not forget, she’s the recent and quite proud owner of a new used dog!

On the romantic front, things are less promising. In a hilarious montage of Tinder dates gone wrong, we never see the guys — it’s just Gaby’s reactions, which range from the bored to the confused to borderline terrified. At one point, she just gets up and leaves — only to return just long enough to scoop up her goblet of wine. When Gaby finally does click with a great guy in rather corny fashion, even that movie-cliché of a meet-cute takes an unexpected turn.

“Spinster” isn’t a particularly visually arresting film, nor is it bursting with memorable and colorful supporting players. It’s simply an effective vehicle for Chelsea Peretti to expand upon her smart/cynical persona to include some genuine heart and likability as well.