in Criterion Month

Kicking and Screaming (1995)

I should have seen this movie when I was in college. Aside from the obvious point that it’s about directionless college students, I would have been able to relate. No one likes to face uncertainty, especially when you’ve spent the last few years hitting the books only to find those skills may not translate to the real world. The film rings true and I wonder if was a reflection of whatever writer/director Noah Baumbach was going through at the time. Baumbach has made a lot of movies of people of different ages struggling to figure out their next step and here’s where it started.

My first impression of K&S (the cool way to abbreviate the title) was “These guys are douche bags.” A group of twentysomething bohemians who act like they’re so cultured and smart and hang out and smoke. But what the film does overtime that impresses me so much is how it breaks down these characters. These guys act smart but they don’t know any more about life than anyone else. If anything they no less because they are so young.

Otis (Carlos Jacott), despite his intelligence, finds himself working in a video store, Skippy (Jason Wiles) can’t control his relationship with Miami (Parker Posey), Max (Chris Eigerman aka my favorite jerk from Malcolm in the Middle) finds himself falling for a loud and brash Kate (Cara Buono) despite the air of sophistication he puts on. Then there’s Grover (Josh Hamilton) who can’t decide if he should follow his heart for Jane (Olivia d’Abo), flee his life to go to Prague or none of the above.

Though Grover is our surrogate character (being the least annoying) the film is an ensemble piece and I’m sure everyone who watches will find that character they connect with. I don’t know if I connect with anyone in particular but I do find myself drawn to Max’s scenes. I think that’s because he’s the biggest douche and therefore most entertaining. Or maybe it’s my affinity for his Mr. Herkabe character on Malcolm in the Middle. Seriously, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch some episode or scenes (there are a lot of Spanish dubbed clips online), he’s the character you’ll love to hate.

It is interesting that no one in this film ever found themselves elevated that far above the indie scene. I don’t know Jason Wiles, Olivia d’Abo’s done a lot of TV shows, Cara Buono is a bit player on Stranger Things, and Josh Hamilton was the dad from Eighth Grade. Noah Baumbach has seen his star rise despite the fact he hasn’t strayed too far from the formula he set with his debut. You have to respect an artist with that integrity.

I hate to rush through this review because it’s my last and the third in a three day stretch of reviews but that’s what Criterion Month is like. It’s watching introspective and artsy films that have a lot to say and marathoning out a bunch of half-realized reviews. That’s film journalism. Until next year, Otteni out.

Where was this scene in the movie?