Greener Grass is a suburban social comedy dressed up as an irreverent weirdo. While it may paint itself into a corner by setting a high bar for itself, I loved being in its company nonetheless.
The film’s writers and directors, Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, play neighbours Jill and Lisa. They’re both raising families in a housing development that takes pride in its synchronicity. Everyone wears braces and dresses up in pastel colours, and they all take an interest in each other no matter how intrusive that may be – they are all oblivious to how eerie they are because this lifestyle makes sense to them. The biggest threat to this community is self-expression, something Jill experiences as she watches her young son act out during extra-curricular activities. In fact, it’s only until her son suddenly evolves into an animal when his behaviour is shrugged off.
Lisa feels on the outside of her community when she feels a void in her family. She dreams of giving her only child a sibling, which Jill identifies by gifting Lisa her brand new baby girl Madison (Lisa renames her Paige). Tickled by the attention, she takes her ambitions further by pretending to be pregnant after stuffing a soccer ball inside her clothes. When she “gives birth”, everyone is happy to meet her (literal) bouncing baby Twilson.
Presented through the soft scope of a commercial advertising picture-perfect Americana, Greener Grass pushes its satire as far as it can go, and then some. It’s a product that encapsulates a lot of sight gags and clever deadpan to summarize the pettiness of pressure. DeBoer and Luebbe avoid cynicism through their bright-eyed characters and the realistic expectations each person faces. The unity shown throughout the supporting cast (including SNL’s Beck Bennett, Glee’s Dot-Marie Jones, Neil Casey of Ghostbusters (2016), The Good Place’s D’Arcy Carden, and a cameo by Thunder Road’s Jim Cummings) shows how talented the cast of Greener Grass is, as well as how strong DeBoer and Luebbe are as directors.
There are some existential ideas towards the end of the film that are not fully explored, which is a bit of a disappointment considering how twisted those final scenes gradually become. However, Greener Grass leaves a significant imprint as it melts your brain (in the best way possible, of course).
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie