|Index||8 reviews in total|
I was fortunate to see 2 showing of FGM during Tribeca - i loved it even more the second time. The film has achieved a really great balance of comedy and poignancy. The comedy ranges from great, sarcastic adult wit to brazen, childish slapstick which makes for not only great laugh out loud moments but speaks to the true nature of being grown-up. It reminds us that adults have both kinds of humor inside, and too often we have to suppress our childish inclinations. But for me, the thoughtfulness of the film got me in the gut. There are moments that are just truly beautiful, both thematically and cinematically - yet you never feel like the touching moments are forced. This film manages to ring true with its story while being artfully entertaining.
try this indie for a unique, beautifully-shot, thought-provoking meditation on what it means to really, truly grow up . . . the protagonist is locked in a struggle between his carefree youth and being a responsible husband and father. his childhood foil has moved on and become an award-winning teacher who appears to be content with adulthood. follow their road trip of discovery as they each learn a little bit about the transition from being a kid to being a fully realized adult. great star turns by alan cumming and amy sedaris, as well as a cameo by Debbie Harry. also, the toy merchant whose name i forget nearly steals the show and expertly fills in the film's emotional core.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I sat through a screening of this move at the Tribeca Film Festival for
two reasons: Amy Sedaris and Judah Friedlander. Sedaris, sadly, has
only one scene to steal. She succeeds. Friedlander, on the other hand,
has a leading role and gives a fine performance, but my serious qualms
with the story and other characters prevented me from really enjoying
Full Grown Men tells the story of Alby Cutrera, a man who somehow married, fathered a son, and reached his thirties without giving up the posturing, tastes, and accouterments of a ten-year-old. How Alby provides for his family, or what exactly his wife saw in him before she kicks him out in the opening scene is never dealt with. What we do know is that Alby is entirely unlikable. His vexatious antics drive the story as he flees his family and coerces his boyhood buddy, Elias (Friedlander), into taking him to Diggityland, the Wallyworld of Florida. We soon learn that Alby was bossy and cruel to Elias when they were children, and his pre-adolescent ribbing continues as they attempt to get acquainted as adults. Elias finally grows tired of the childishness (though not soon enough for me), and Alby finds himself hitchhiking through Florida in one of the most strained, toilsome road movies I've ever seen. Throughout this pointless journey he meets a string of wacky characters (of which Sedaris is one) who are obliged by cliché to push him a few minutes closer to the end of the movie. Eventually, he gets a greatly deserved butt-kicking by a group of midgets (one of the many feeble attempts at getting a laugh), and he still doesn't get the point: nobody likes you, Alby, you need to grow up. In the end we know he's been transformed because he draws a life-like sketch of a handicapped child instead of doodling one of his refrigerator-art comics about how he longs to be a kid again. Then in the final shot, riding a bus home to his family, Alby gives us one last asinine grin before blowing a great, big bubble, presumably from his pouch of big league chew. Oh, Alby, will you ever be a full grown man? Who cares?
I think the movie was great. I enjoyed the scenery, the actors, the story line and the movie all around. I most certainly relate to it. I've noticed since nearing the age of 25 that most people do act like zombies and forget to enjoy life because they are so busy trying to be perfect employees, perfect spouses, perfect parents, perfect students, and just perfect all around... I think it's extremely important to find a healthy balance of enjoying life while you're making a living as an adult if not you will never enjoy life anymore. We never know how short life may be so while we may think joining the corporate race is important so is enjoying life. You should never be too serious. I think the movie had a beautiful message.
I saw this film at its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in
New York back in late April. I watched the online "trailer" for this
film only AFTER I had seen the film. I must say the film is waaaaaay
funnier than the trailer.
I really want to see this film again. As with "Diva" and "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown", it often takes several viewings for me to really appreciate a film. Diva and Women are now two of my all-time favorites.
There are scenes in Full Grown Men with a gun-toting hitchhiker, a wannabe clown bartender, a woman who thinks she's a mermaid and a sleazy dealer in collectibles and all sorts of other things. And then there's the geriatric-butt grabbing lothario of a pool man. And there's a fleeting moment involving an ancient retirement home codger who moved sooooooo slowly he had me laughing so hard I was crying.
And the music! I cannot WAIT to get my hands on the soundtrack CD! There's one song that involves what sounds like a toy piano that is just wonderful.
"Full Grown Men" is an intelligent and funny film that asks its audience to do some thinking but doesn't demand it.
The director has said that he found himself in his thirties wearing
tennies and playing kid's games and noticed other male friends behaving
similarly. This was the seed of his film about a man unable to relate
to adulthood who runs away from his wife and young son taking a case
full of action toys to sell to a buyer in Florida. On the way he seeks
his childhood best friend, whom he turns out to have bullied
mercilessly. But he thinks that time and that friendship were idyllic.
The story has some points in common with 'Chuck and Buck,' Mike White's uncomfortable tale (directed by Miguel Arteta) about a childlike man who goes to look up a boyhood pal, thinking their homo-erotic relationship can be revived; perhaps misconceiving how it was in the first place. Chuck is married and straight. Buck has stayed the way he was.
One has to view with caution the idea that childish men are a new phenomenon. Haven't women always seen us this way? Isn't the puer eternus--the eternal youth--a universal archetype? Yes, America famously fetishizes youth--but not childhood for grown men. Didn't the ancient Greeks idolize youthful beauty too? Granted, mass media seems to pursue a relentless dumbing-down of adulthood for commercial purposes, trying (with some apparent success) to enslave adult men to techno-toys (with women eager to join the club). American men today seem short on grown-up role models. But if David Munro was concerned with these issues, the movie he made feels neither realistic nor polemical. It's a rambling road picture about a character who's hard to care about or even understand. Did this guy ever have an occupation? Did he get an education above middle school? How did he find a wife and stay married long enough to have a five- or six-year-old son? Off he goes, with his bag of toys, and these questions are never considered. Obviously, the protagonist's twee-ness is called into question. He takes a literal beating. But it's still not clear what Munro is trying, if anything, to say.
According to A.V. Club's Noel Murray, 'Full Grown Men' is "a commentary on a phenomenon that cartoonist Bill Griffith once dubbed 'kidults:' adults who dress, behave, and entertain themselves as though they were still 11 years old." He adds that it's also "a subtle dig at the indie quirkfests and Hollywood comedies that lionize these twinkly, sexless, deeply damaged half-wits." Those would be logical directions to go. Much of the time the protagonist here can indeed be seen as a 'twinkly, sexless, deeply damaged half-wit.' But he isn't being presented as a 'phenomenon' and Munro doesn't seem to be making digs at films that celebrate it--if such exist. Murray concludes "'Full Grown Men' often becomes as intolerably silly as the twee Amerindies it's reacting to." Perhaps that's because it isn't really 'reacting to' them. Most of the time the film seems without any perspective other than its clueless protagonist's.
It doesn't really seem Munro accomplishes much besides taking us on a little ride with this fey "loser" (as his wife calls him, in a parting shot). It's hard to see even a belated coming of age happening. There's just this one guy, Alby Cutrera (Matt McGrath), whose stubborn, smiley cutesy-ness is hard to relate to. He finds Elias Guber (Judah Friedlander), the childhood friend, who's become a teacher of children with special needs. Elias and his colleagues are taking the class to a place in Florida called Diggityland where Elias is going to get an award for his work. Alby tags along. And he meets some colorful characters.
First there's a disgruntled ex-Diggityland employee with militaristic and sociopathic tendencies (Alan Cumming, who co-produced this film) who hitches a ride with Elias and Alby. Not a very successful creation, Cumming's character, crazy, threatening, angry, perhaps harmless, odd, but not really funny. More successful is Trina (Amy Sedaris), a clown-in-training tending bar where Alby, departing from childhood, gets drunk: her manic energy is appealing. Rather haunting is Deborah Harry as a sad former mermaid living in a trailer who wants to seduce Alby, it seems. Best of all is Rollie (Benjamin Karpf), a special needs boy from the class who becomes Alby's roommate in a motel on the trip to Diggityland. Rollie's dialog with Alby that evening when he refuses to go to sleep is charming and fresh. It makes you wish Munnro had forgotten his tennies and his adulthood-shirking friends and made a movie about the special needs class and Elias. Friedlander, who is well-remembered from 'American Splendor' five years ago, has a more nuanced, appealing role than McGrath--though as a foil to Alby his response of 'I will tolerate you but I do not like you' never varies, or has much effect.
The upshot of these encounters is that Alby is rejected by everyone--but not the film itself, which represents Alby's world, appealingly, in candy-colored images tinted with pink filters by cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco that give the Florida locales warmth even when the protagonist is getting beaten up by dwarfs or left by the side of the road. Alby is, unintentionally or simply cluelessly, mean to children, and was mean to his friend as a child. But the movie isn't mean to him. If it were, this would be a different, darker, more thought-provoking story. 'Full Grown Men' has its hard-core fans, and won an IndieWire "Undiscovered Gems" award. With a belated US distribution in selected cities, it is getting a theatrical life-extension, but it lacks either a grown-up point of view--or a true appreciation of childhood.
Thoughtful, intelligent comedy; a real sleeper. considering the offal often found in the indie industry (read that, horror), this was a refreshing find. having indulged in the occasional indie experience, I'm used to reacting in one, or more, of several ways. Often, dumbfounded the movie ever got made. Surprised they found such bad actors when there are so many out of work exceptional ones. Wondering what I was doing there, when I could be, oh I don't know, pulling my teeth out with bolt cutters! Looking around to see if anyone noticed my head snapping backwards and forwards, with the following snort as I came awake. Or, composing my own obituary. Thankfully, none of the above from viewing "Full Grown Men"! Hope it finds distribution and an audience!
I have seen this film throughout its many stages, and it has warmed my
heart, and made me laugh each and every time...from its first screening
to its World Premiere at Tribeca. With so many exceptional characters
you are sure to find one who will wisk you away, back in time, to the
land of play-grounds and double dog dares. The juxtaposition of two
reunited friends lays a perfect path to examine the child inside and
whether or not it can play nicely with your adult self. Whether you
long for a second chance at being a kid, or thank God that you never
have to go back...this is the film for you! A heartfelt story with
beautiful cinematography, something for all.
I can't wait to see it in a theater near me! =) X,D, & B You Rock!!
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