Atlanta Film Festival Review: Greener Grass

Score: B-

Directors: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe

Cast: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Beck Bennett, Neil Casey

Running Time: 101 Minutes

Rated: NR

Greener Grass seems designed for you to laugh or say "WTF" at least once a minute. While it's more successful at the latter than the former, this is a truly unforgettable comedy. Written by, directed by and starring UCB vets Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, this is a deeply weird suburban satire that's downright Lynchian at times.

DeBoer plays Jill and Luebbe plays Lisa, two stay-at-home moms wrapped up in their sons' extra-curriculars and academic performance. Their conversations are typical of suburbia: overly polite or passive-aggressive. Case in point: When Lisa compliments Jill on her new baby, Jill offers her up, and Lisa accepts. Jill's too worried about offending her friend to say "Just kidding." It's a running gag throughout the movie.

In fact, the movie works best as a series of gags. Trying to tell a coherent story, over a far-too-long 101 minutes, is a lot more difficult. But luckily there's an all-star supporting cast of comic talent to keep the jokes coming frequently. SNL's Beck Bennett is absolutely hysterical as Jill's husband Nick. He's obsessed with drinking water from their pool and gets excited when his son spontaneously turns into a dog, because at least now he's athletic. (That's only, like, the eighth-weirdest thing in this movie.) The Good Place's D'Arcy Carden shows up as their sons' teacher, focusing on the grisly details of the Oregon Trail.

What doesn't work is Glee's Dot-Marie Jones as an elusive killer. She's committed in an absolutely unhinged role, but it just adds time to the movie with almost no laughs. But your mileage may vary on this move to such a degree that nothing will have you chuckling, or everything will have you in stitches. This is a movie that you have to be on its wavelength the whole time.

For fans of Adult Swim's slate of shows – particularly Tim & Eric – and people who enjoy a satirical look at the conformity and the weird combination of intimacy and alienation of the suburbs, will find at least something to love here, even if it's not the perfection its characters are chasing after.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.