VOD film review: Greener Grass
Dark and deliciously silly comedy8
Katherine McLaughlin | On 23, Nov 2019
Director: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe
Cast: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Beck Bennett
Watch Greener Grass online in the UK: Curzon Home Cinema / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Since Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe’s surreal suburban satire played in the Midnight section at Sundance at the start of 2019, it has polarised audiences and been compared to the work of John Waters, David Lynch, Wes Anderson, Todd Solondz and Tim Burton to name a few. There’s truth in those comparisons, as the film obnoxiously flouts the rules and stands out thanks to the clarity of vision from its co-creators. Based on their 2016 SXSW award-winning short film of the same name, and produced by Vanishing Angle (the company responsible for Jim Cummings’ Thunder Road), it marks these two women out as exciting new filmmakers to watch.
DeBoer and Luebbe co-star as soccer mums and neighbours Jill and Lisa. When a clearly envious Lisa tells Jill, she thinks her newborn baby is cute, Jill happily hands her over. That’s only the tip of the iceberg in a film where a child turns into a dog, a replacement yoga teacher plays her class 90s disaster movie Twister as instruction, and patrons courteously eat off the floor as waiters wail with sadness. There’s also a crazed stalker on the loose. As Lisa sets her sights on stealing Jill’s life, including her pool-water obsessed husband Nick (Saturday Night Live actor Beck Bennett), things get progressively weirder.
The supporting cast are each given their moment to shine. D’Arcy Carden from The Good Place plays passive aggressive schoolteacher Miss Human with her usual charm, and Julian Hilliard as Jill’s son is gifted with one of the most ridiculously funny lines and a whole wealth of pure physical comedy. DeBoer is a joy to watch as she keeps slipping further into confusion and anxiety at her homogenous surroundings and questionable decisions. It’s a delightfully silly performance that recalls Kathleen Turner’s iconic turn in Serial Mom, as her character edges closer to breaking point.
In a place where politeness is key to existence, the film really sings in its uniform, candy-coloured aesthetic. Its retro approach and idyllic setting recall the stylings of Bryan Forbes’ The Stepford Wives or The Prisoner. Rather than take aim at easy modern targets it grounds its absurd humour in timeless truths about conformity and peer pressure. The gag rate is exponentially high, and there is the occasional broad stroke, yet most of the comedy lands due to the game performances and the distinct and dedicated world building. With Greener Grass, DeBoer and Luebbe have crafted a promising debut feature and future cult classic that hilariously picks apart society’s most excruciating habits.
Greener Grass is out now in UK cinemas and on VOD.