Phil ★½

Greg Kinnear is a likeable actor who gravitates towards playing feckless and unlikeable people — the kind of simpering people whose lives are just waiting to be flattened by a steamroller, or already have. The only difference with “Phil,” his cloying and contrived directorial debut, is that Kinnear is both in front of the camera and behind the wheel; it’s like a slow-motion hit-and-run where the victim and the suspect are somehow the same man. As a feat of masochism, “Phil” is an impressive trick. As a movie, it’s a ghastly mess.

It’s immediately apparent why Kinnear was drawn to Stephen Mazur’s (“Liar Liar”) script, which hinges on a humdinger of a mistaken-identity premise that feels like it was hatched sometime in the mid-’90s. The first time that we meet Phil, a morose Portland dentist who Kinnear plays with his signature quiver and sigh, he’s standing on the edge of a highway bridge and staring down at the black water below. A car full of giggling teens pulls up with their iPhones at the ready, and one of them encourages Phil to jump: “I can make you famous on YouTube!” Whatever sympathy and affection our hero is looking for, he’s not going to find it through suicide.