Film Review: Greener Grass

Editor's Review
6.5
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Greener Grass sets its tone early. You quickly come to terms with characters making bizarre decisions and accepting absurd situations as normal. They move on, and so do we, because there isn’t enough time to question it.

It’s a rarity, especially as the grey hairs set in and you start to feel like at the ripe age of 30 you’ve seen everything there is to see on the big screen (naive or pessimistic?), but every now and then you come across a film that leaves you questioning your own taste. Did i enjoy that? Did i hate it? Well, I definitely felt something. Enter Greener Grass, a carnival of left turns and wtf moments.

Veterans of the improv circuit Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe write, direct and star in this surreal suburban experience. We are immediately placed in the world of the soccer Mom, and introduced to our female leads Jill (DeBoer) and Lisa (Luebbe) watching their sons from the sidelines as they gossip about everything and nothing. It is here that we get our first inclination of the kind of world we are entering when Lisa is astonished to see Jill has a baby in her lap, (Note: the baby has been there for the entire scene) and comments something to the effect of “Oh my god Jill, when did you get a baby?”. Jill introduces her very cute daughter Madison, and then as expected proceeds to offer her to Lisa. “Yeah she’s great. Do you want her?”. Lisa accepts and an actual baby is casually handed over. Let the circus begin!

Greener Grass sets its tone early. You quickly come to terms with characters making bizarre decisions and accepting absurd situations as normal. They move on, and so do we, because there isn’t enough time to question it.

The focal point of the story is Lisa, she has given up her baby Madison, and her son Julian seems to be regressing more and more by the day, unable to take part in any physical activities without quickly bursting into paralysing tears. Her husband Nick played by SNL’s Beck Bennet has become obsessed with the purity of the water in their swimming pool, and Lisa finds herself constantly putting others before herself in an attempt to be accepted by her social circle. It quickly becomes clear that nobody wants to be left out in this town, if your child isn’t taking the special after-school rocket math class, then you should be concerned.

There’s a lot to like about Greener Grass, it isn’t like most comedies in that it doesn’t follow the rules. It has its own distinct flavour, it’s like Wonka’s Magic Chewing gum, in that it is multiple courses wrapped in one radioactive treat. Having said that  you probably won’t like everything on offer. As far as the laughs go, Greener Grass focuses more on the uncomfortable and absurd than actual jokes. Sometimes you will laugh of your own volition, equally scenes will submit you to at least half-chuckle through sheer peculiar persistence.

Visually Greener Grass is on the money, the images on screen pop with a purposefulness that lets us know this isn’t our reality. The suburban glow of greener than green lawns and whiter than white picket fences may do a number on the eyes, but they sell the facade.

Witnessing Lisa’s seemingly ‘perfect’ life slowly fall apart as she attempts to clutch at social approval taps into a message that most of us could learn from. The stepford-like environment is probably a little less relatable in 2019, but the core idea is still applicable to our for-the-gram-generation, in that it tells us our happiness cannot be measured by the approval of others. DeBoer plays her role with the vulnerability of a wounded puppy, and perfectly captures Lisa’s naivety as she bumbles through her environment making one bad decision after another. The rest of the cast all play their parts in creating a community obsessed with/and trapped by their own social anxieties, which makes for some bonkers parody. Luebbe is without a doubt the standout comedic performance of the film, her towering figure amongst the rest of the cast sticks out like a sore-thumb, but it is her physicality and dry delivery that steals a majority of the laughs.

Greener Grass won’t do it for everyone, in fact it’s safe to say most will unlikely be willing to go to the places this film wants to take them. The laughs are hit and miss, but when it hits it hits sweetly. In a genre that has become evidently stagnant of late, Deboer and Luebbe have delivered a refreshingly-random comedy with some valuable and relatable lessons hidden beneath it’s quirky exterior.

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