Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Kicking and Screaming" (1995) - Movie Review

One of the objective of a two hour film is eliminating the mundane activities, conversations and boring motions out of the life and present with the director’s objective of his/her story. “Kicking and Screaming” appears to have its priorities mixed up but suddenly it comes and hit you with this whispering slow and soothing wind at the eleventh hour which blossoms the whole movie. This directorial debut of Noah Baumbach is a surprising material which keeps its card close to its chest till the right time. It works, quite magically in the end to leave us with nostalgia, romance, comfort and a little sadness.

The film explores four friends sticking together after graduation and staying nearby the vicinity they lived their most memorable times of the youth. The years of a student in a college is the most special thing that can happen to any individual. Post high school and beginning to realize the entry level role on this adulthood has its fun learning. For one to push the limits of irresponsibility and the second would be to not give a damn about the ambience. Friends are walking targets for sarcasms, revelries. The discovery of philosophical and psychological connection beyond the family. These are the doors to the phase of life that is going to suck in.

Grover (Josh Hamilton), Max (Chris Eigerman), Skippy (Jason Wiles) and Otis (Carlos Jacott) are the friends with their liberal thoughts and perspective. They have graduated. At the graduation party, Skippy asks the worst thing that would happen after college. Otis says living in Milwaukee as he is hesitant to pursue his graduate school and Grover tells what just happened which is that his lovely girl friend is off to Prague. That will be Jane (Olivia d’Abo) and this appears like a typical break up and it is. In other films we have seen this break up used as an emotional catalyst for the protagonist to go reach for something else, here it becomes a slow transition in to learning about Grover.

All four of these are stuck up within themselves and to the life they lived for past four years. Things were great. Great conversations, wonderful girls and booze on day light. Now the show is off and the party is over. Baumbach movie does not exaggerate on those emotions. He do not let the characters put on a glum face. Rather each of them treat it with a certain pride and ego. Max a certified misanthrope is a snob and goes on staring at the ceiling to come up with some creativity. Each of these character’s major do not get highlighted because it does not pertain to this after shocks.

In between these is Chet (Eric Stolz) the bartender in a dingy bar. He has lived along the campus for more than ten years. He takes classes and involves in the discussion with his customers. He appears to be the ultimate version of these four individuals unable to cut his chords. Yet he seem to be more in peace and control. We also come to aware of the reasoning behind the peace later in the film which begins to question ourselves of the career, ambition and the created destinies out of the education.

While the undergraduate college days were the wildest of my life, the cluelessness of these four reminded me of how I was after my master’s graduation. Living in the university town I have seen my friends as myself failing day by day to get a job in the tough economic situation and then slowly getting used to the routines of being among friends and the unlimited resource. Then soon enough it becomes a stale situation of hating and liking it with similar passion. In “Kicking and Screaming”, each have their dilemmas to overcome.

The first one hour bothered a lot about the nature of these people and the film itself. Deliberately trying to be funny, elite and cool, these characters go through their lives in the idea of denial. Baumback focuses on the common actions omitted in films for good reasons but here he forces to open the eyelids and makes his audience sit through this. As the film moves from three months from graduation to fall semester to few months before Christmas vacation, it tightened its grip on the neck on the boredom and smugness these characters carried. In between these we see how what looked like a typical movie breakup of Grover and Jane began as wonderful love story. And as we are kept on track of this relation, the finality happens. Suddenly everything is beautiful and in the single most impressive scene in the film, Josh Hamilton as Grover delivers the best dialogue. Nothing has been more romantic but not cheesy. It achieves a certain level of precise delivery in which it is a realization of the love and his own idea of existence. Out there and how it ends makes those lined up regular activities Noah Baumbach made us see a nostalgic past.


Felix Villa said...

This was a great review! Your insight on this film made me realize the messages in this movie.

Felix Villa said...

Your review made the movie more clearer to me, thanks.