Phil, formerly known as The Philosophy of Phil, stars everyone’s favorite buddy uncle, Greg Kinnear — and, after an impressive 30-year acting career, it also marks his directorial debut.

The story centers on Dr. Phil McGuire (Kinnear) as he navigates a devastating divorce. Turns out he isn’t handling it so well. In fact, the film opens on Phil in his dentist’s coat parking his car on a busy bridge, walking to the edge in some sort of fugue state and seriously considering taking a leap. It’s only when a group of cruel teenagers show up and start filming him that he snaps back to reality.

Phil eventually returns to work, where he meets a new patient, Michael Fisk (Bradley Whitford). Fisk is almost leading Phil’s life — had everything gone to plan. He has a beautiful wife and daughter, a fulfilling career, and he’s traveled to Greece, something Phil always wanted to do but never did. Phil immediately becomes fixated on Fisk, hungry for his apparently perfect life. After their encounter, Phil’s obsession escalates to the point where he ends up stalking his patient full-blown.

When it’s revealed, quite tragically, that Fisk isn’t as happy as he seems, Phil has to know why. He’s compelled to insert himself into Fisk’s life so that he can get some answers. So, he does what every well-adjusted person would do and makes up a fake persona — Spiros, a Greek handyman and old friend of Fisk’s, complete with fisherman’s cap and muddled accent.

He worms his way into the Fisk family using his likable, seemingly benign guise, becoming particularly close with Fisk’s wife, Alicia (Emily Mortimer), in the process. And, of course, as any impersonation story tells us, this can only end badly. The question is, when his fake life ends, does his real life end, too?

Kinnear’s career change into directing is just that — a change. It’s neither good nor bad. It shows potential, really. But is this suicidal comedy — if there is such a thing — his best work yet? No. It’s middle of the road at best. It’s never really intentionally funny and it’s never truly moving. It’s an admirable first effort.

Here’s hoping that his next project doesn’t waffle so much — if Kinnear is going to play a jerk, he needs to be a jerk, and if he’s going to be buddy-uncle Kinnear, well that’s fine, too. Just pick one and lean in so that we actually feel it.

Phil is in theaters and available On Demand and Digital Friday, July 5.