Box elder bugs are loud, scary looking, and dependent on group swarming. Yet, they're also completely harmless and extremely passive aggressive. Using this metaphor to address a generation ...
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Box elder bugs are loud, scary looking, and dependent on group swarming. Yet, they're also completely harmless and extremely passive aggressive. Using this metaphor to address a generation that thinks big, talks fast, and threatens to change the world, Box Elder is an unapologetic portrait of a youth movement at odds with its own ambivalence, exposing a generation defined by privilege, potential, and self-induced paralysis. The film follows four best friends through their last years of college. Dependant on their parents financially, and on each other emotionally, they spend their time sleeping in, hanging out, and eating lots of sandwiches. Using break-ups and re-occurring scholastic failures to impose a quarter-life crisis, they take turns postponing responsibility, avoiding accountability, and looking for someone or something to substantiate their lives, all the while hedging their bets and mastering the art of treading water and getting away with it. It's a collegiate love letter.Written by
WILHELM SCREAM: Heard in the BB Gun battle when Rennie runs off-screen after stealing Nick's sandwich. See more »
When the undercover cop is busting the kid at the Halloween party, you see his gun duct taped to his shirt on his back. Then in the immediate next shot the orientation and position of the gun is totally different. See more »
Many of the names in the credits are fake pseudonyms for jobs that either writer/director Todd Sklar did himself, or jobs that were done by some of the actors. They chose to credit fake names to make the film and it's production seem more fleshed out. See more »
This film is funny. No doubt. But it also sort've lacks focus at times, which I personally dug, and feel that it's done intentionally to fit the storyline. It also goes hand in hand with the heavy emphasis on naturalism in this film. Life isn't focused the way that many film plots are. That's the trouble with a lot of coming of age movies; you have to fit all of the salient information into a package that doesn't lose the forest for the trees. The typical solution is to gloss over details and highlight key elements that should be easily recalled later. This movie had more of a "stream of consciousness" style, which I thought was refreshing. It felt like a "concept album" of sketches, and I liked that various subplots occurred just to add to the idea of the film rather than a preconceived chain of plot twists at the end that you could only have discovered had you found waldo or his walking stick in each shot.
The opening few scenes do a good job of drawing the viewer into the setting. And the opening steadicam shot really places you back at college. And it is indeed a maverick shot. Then we plunge into getting to know these characters, and I felt like I had a good handle on who each of the four main dudes were supposed to be by 10 minutes in. I also liked that we already begin to meet a ton of the peripheral characters, who end up only being around a scene or two, but make their time count with tons of laughs. As far as a reflection of college life, that makes sense. There were many people who seemed important at the time whose names I'll never recall. But I remember the time they drank a candle, or the time they climbed the dean's roof on acid and thought they were in the CIA.
The acting by the main dudes is solid. The preppier of the four (Nick) struck a good balance against the main two (Scott & Rennie). I liked his constant girlfriend drama, especially since she doesn't really even come into the film until quite a way through. We've all known that guy. He has the long term relationship, but it's really just out of comfort and complacency. I felt like he did a good job of fleshing out that role while remaining believable as one of the dudes. That's not easy to do in real life, nor can I imagine it to be that easy in a film. I enjoyed the maturation from obsession to casual flings as far as dating went. It reminded me of the way that many view relationships in general. In high school and shortly thereafter, people need confirmation of relationship status with hand holding or consistent verbal praise, but eventually move from that to relationships that are what they are.
For whatever reason, Rennie felt more like a pet than a person. And that's a good thing. He was so confident in front of the camera. He was so confident, I don't think he knew he was being filmed. He did a great job of putting wacky where it belonged. The cop bit was priceless. The constant moochery was only slightly outdone by the way that it was constantly enabled. This was a sharp picture of that guy we all lived with who managed to live with us for a year without paying a dime of his parents' money for anything but duraflame logs and sticky hands, but we would definitely take a bullet for him cause he's THAT guy. He's like a puppy that was just too cute to discipline when he was small, but now is too big to know any better. I'm also glad that his character didn't change much throughout the film, as it provided a fixed point to measure how the others did.
There were some good thematics towards the end that served to punctuate and then accentuate the loose wackiness of the bulk of the piece. And I really liked when that professor was smoking next to the no smoking sign. And I liked the Opus shirt under a sports jacket too. I viewed this as partially a critique of the plain vanilla "hollywood professor". And his words of wisdom, so true. That scene stayed with me. I also really liked that that the characters spoke over each other from time to time. It may be due to improv, but regardless, it makes the characters seem more human and real. Big thumbs up to the Random road trips too, those are an essential part of any college career.
All in all, this was a fun movie, and it really struck a chord with me because of how true to form it was. Makes me very nostalgic for college.
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