Lake Bell missed the eclipse last week because she was doing “mom things.” Bell spent the afternoon wiping green paint off herself and her two children (one three years, the other two months) after playtime.

Talking by phone to Free Press Houston during the late afternoon on the day of the 2024 eclipse, the subject of Jerry Lewis, who’d passed away the previous day, also came up.

“I have always been a massive fan,” Bell says. “King of Comedy has always been my go-to film whenever people ask me about comedic influences. You can look it up. I’ve been quoted saying that.”

Lake is currently promoting her sophomore turn as writer/director for I Do … Until I Don’t, the very epitome of an ensemble romantic comedy.

A snobby BBC documentary filmmaker (Dolly Wells in a star-making turn), whose thesis portends that marriage is a passé institution, recruits three couples in a sleepy Florida town. The couples are played by Bell and Ed Helms; an older bickering couple played by Paul Reiser and Mary Steenburgen; and Bell’s dippy sister and her partner who are in a open relationship played by Amber Heard and Wyatt Cenac.

While much of the comedy of I Do … Until I Don’t seems cynical, the narrative is never unsympathetic.

“I’m not capable of depicting things that are inherently mean-spirited. While the title has a jaded flavor the message and the heart of the movie is pro commitment,” says Bell.

“In this day and age when there is so much tension with the social-political climate of our country and the world I wanted to create a story that respects its characters,” Bell says. “I think it’s a privilege to evolve with someone and grow old with someone.”

The different couples bargain with the filmmaker for a larger part in the film-within-a-film based on the animosity of their various relationships. Reiser and Steenburgen seem to be constantly on the verge of divorce, yet their lengthy marriage eventually displays the strongest bond.

“I cast them because I know how great they are, but I had no idea their chemistry would be so eloquent and effortless,” Bell adds. “They are so hilarious.”

“Dolly Wells did my table read in LA when I was searching for financing and she just annihilated the part. She had impeccable timing but with a sprinkle of doucheyness and heartbreak,” says Bell. “The cinematic language of Vivian’s documentary is really a different vocabulary than the rest of the film. My DP [Wyatt Garfield] and I had fun experimenting with the different layers.”

“I Do … Until I Don’t” opened last weekend exclusively at the River Oaks Theatre.