After college graduation, Grover's girlfriend Jane tells him she's moving to Prague to study writing. Grover declines to accompany her, deciding instead to move in with several friends, all of whom can't quite work up the inertia to escape their university's pull. Nobody wants to make any big decisions that would radically alter his life, yet none of them wants to end up like Chet, the professional student who tends bar and is in his tenth year of university studies.Written by
James Meek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Based on Chet's comments in the first book club meeting with Otis, the book is "All the Pretty Horses" by Cormac McCarthy. The movie was released in 1995, and McCarthy's novel won the National Book Award in 1992. See more »
At the airport, when Grover says, "Shit, I wish I hadn't seen that", his mark is clearly visible on the floor when he walks away. See more »
Guy at party:
I'll tell you the worst part about losing a foot.
See more »
Time of No Reply
Written by Nick Drake
Performed by Nick Drake
Courtesy of Hannibal Records, A Rykodisc Label and Island Records Ltd. See more »
A self-conscious film that almost manages to be profound
"Kicking and Screaming" shows a considerable degree of self-awareness for a film about college graduation directed by a 25-year-old, but it is still an awkward, self-conscious film that is no more confident than its insecure characters.
It was fortunate that in 1995, there were producers out there who believed a movie about depressed upper-middle class white boys had commercial potential, because those producers launched the career of Noah Baumbach, who would go on to make superior films in the next decade. As in his later films, Baumbach seems to take pity on pretentious and tremendously insecure characters while simultaneously taking delight in exposing their weaknesses to the world. But in "Kicking and Screaming," unlike, say, "The Squid and the Whale," Baumbach seems to identify just a little too closely with his young characters and seems to believe that they are less obnoxious than they are.
"Kicking and Screaming"'s greatest strength and weakness is how well it captures an aspect of growing up not often captured on film: the resistance to change. Many films deal with characters who gradually change as they come of age, but "Kicking and Screaming" deals with characters who desire on some level to move on past their current selves but are hesitant to do anything about that desire. This also hurts the film, however, since very little changes from beginning to end, and when characters do change at all, they change less than they (or the film) believe.
The stagnation would not be a problem if the film were a comedy, but, while the film is full of quirky characters and occasionally funny jokes, it deals with the dullness and depression too honestly to really work as a comedy. When wealthy Max, perhaps the most stagnant of all the characters, puts a "broken glass" sign over a pile of shattered glass rather than cleaning it up, it is good for a laugh, but as the film goes on, we get to know Max well enough that it almost stops being funny.
"Kicking and Screaming" is certainly worth seeing for any fans of college-related movies and should probably be required viewing for anyone in their junior or senior years, since it could work as an effective warning against the perils that await graduates without plans. But the film, like its characters, has both too much self-consciousness and too little self-awareness to achieve the levels of comedic or dramatic potential that it hints at.
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