Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review: Kicking and Screaming (1995)

Baumbach's College Years.

A comedy with a surprisingly strong purpose. Quirky twenty-somethings exchange hilarious barbs and make observations that hit a bit too close to home. Characters actively ignore the fact that the worst of all possible choices is marinating in the same water with people you used to like but now secretly resent as the protective womb of higher learning shrinks. They are the Cabaret in Berlin. Sure, we're having lots of fun, but staying and doing nothing could be the cause of all our problems.

The group's antics are broken up by flashbacks to a beginning of a relationship that ended when the film began. At first, they don't generate any justification for their existence and grind the film to a halt. It isn't until the fun moments between the characters get rarer and rarer and all we have left is this moment of beauty, the origin story of an insane fluke of a successful cooperation. Ending on this is a bittersweet affair, and reveals the main character as doomed to this formula of accidental joy for the rest of his life. "I just wish we were an old couple," isn't a sweet statement. He wants climaxes unearned. It's pitiful.

Kicking and Screaming joins, with Gilmore Girls, the club of owing absolutely everything to Whit Stillman. Baumbach in particular should thank him and, while he's at it, never stop.

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