GREENER GRASS: 3 ½ STARS. “refreshingly unusual and smart midnight movie.”
“Greener Grass,” a new comedy from the Upright Citizens Brigade writing-directing team of Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, is a portrait of the suburbs as seen through a surrealistic lens.
Set in an unnamed Midwestern Stepfordian suburb, the place looks familiar but feels like an alternate universe. There are no cars, (everyone gets around by golf cart), the adults all have braces (although none of the kids do) and the couples dress in complimentary pastel colors. Strange? Yes, but no weirder than the opening scene when passive aggressive Lisa (Luebbe) convinces her best friend Jill (DeBoer) to give hand over her newborn baby Madison. Like forever. “Take her,” Jill says. “We’ve had her since she was born.”
It sets the heightened tone of what’s to come. Later Jill’s son Julian (Julian Hilliard) turns into a dog, husbands are swapped and, because why not?, there’s a killer on the loose. A look at the idealized lives we try to present to the world with happy, smiling faces, “Greener Grass” mines the absurdity of keeping up with the Jones for searing social commentary on materialism and our perceptions of success and even the media (check out what happens to the boy who watches a TV show called “Kids With Knives”).
DeBoer and Luebbe keep things lively with surrealistic and awkward humor, never straying from the absurd tone established in the film’s opening moments. Imagine a mix of David Lynch’s soft suburban underbelly and the fearlessness of John Waters and you get an idea of the brand of satire on display. It occasionally feels like a series of skits strung together by theme but even then, it’s so refreshingly unusual, so grounded in the world DeBoer and Luebbe have created and so smart, it earns a recommendation, particularly if you are a fan of midnight movies.