Sundance 2019: Greener Grass

Beck Bennett and Jocelyn DeBoer appear in Greener Grass by Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Lowell Mayer.

Greener Grass takes us to a type of suburbs that we’ve never really seen presented on screen before but the laughs keep coming non-stop.

To the outside word, this particular Midwest-inspired suburb is a strikingly weird one.  It’s almost as if everybody lives a suburb that’s not known to the outside world.  Chances are, you’ve never seen a neighborhood that behaves in this manner.  Instead of driving cars, everybody drives golf carts instead.  Every single adult has braces even though all of their teeth are straight.  All of the couples are color-coordinated with regards to their wardrobe.

There’s some rather fascinating stuff taking place in the film.  One such gag includes Lisa (Dawn Luebbe) taking a soccer ball, pushing it up her dress so much that it hurts, and announcing she’s pregnant.  Furthermore, nobody seems to question the fact that when she does give birth, it’s a fricking soccer ball (Twilson Hanks)!  Not even her husband Dennis (Neil Casey).  The film doesn’t even shy away from making a joke about Wilson in the Tom Hanks-starring Cast Away.

All of this doesn’t even account for the strange activity that takes place regarding the pool.  Julian (Julian Hilliard) somehow turns into a dog and he’s still treated the same except he’s faster and more athletic.  On the other hand, school won’t be the same for him.

Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe do it all in this film as the duo is a triple threat by acting, writing, and directing.  The two of them bring different personalities to a film that is very heavy on casting improvisers.  It is not only that the performances are so amazing but the writing takes the comedy to one level.  Early in the film, Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer) decides to give her baby to Lisa without asking her husband, Nick (Beck Bennett).  When she does finally ask him, Beck Bennett plays the character as the straight guy.  Regardless of which, I was roaring with laughter.

If there’s a single thing that I didn’t like, it’s the fact that there’s not enough of The Good Place‘s secret weapon, D’Arcy Carden.  Don’t get me wrong because she portrays Miss Human as only she can.  You’ll likely get some nostalgia for the Oregon Trail computer game given her teaching curriculum about life on the prairie.

Comedies either work or they don’t.  This is one that definitely works even if it is in the single most absurd way possible!  When I see a film with a cast like this, it immediately piques my interest.  Even during some of the film’s most absurd parts, I found myself completely captivated by what was happening.  I don’t even know what films that it can be compared with.  What I can definitely say is that Greener Grass will be filling audiences with laughter while playing the midnight circuit for years to come.

DIRECTORS/SCREENWRITERS:  Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe
CAST:  Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Beck Bennett, Neil Casey, Mary Holland, D’Arcy Carden

Greener Grass held its world premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in the Midnight section. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.