Written by Jocelyn Deboer and Dawn Luebbe and directed by Deboer and Luebbe, “Greener Grass” is almost like a movie, if you were on copious amounts of drugs and locked in a movie theater until the credits rolled. I don’t even feel as if I can call this experience a movie, that would be a disservice to the history of the medium. I don’t enjoy being harsh on films or filmmakers, it’s hard to make a movie- any movie for that matter, but this one threw me for a loop. Okay, so, if I were to describe this film it would be a sort of nightmarish “Stepford Wives“-like scenario drenched in sunny pastel hues wherein soccer moms Jill (Jocelyn Deboer) and Lisa (Dawn Luebbe) consistently make awkward small talk while casually tossing about major life choices with the fickle and capricious nature of children under the age of six. At the opening children’s soccer game Lisa notices Jill’s newborn and notes how cute she is. Jill responds with “Oh, do you want her? She’s great.” and she cheerily hands her baby over to Lisa- not to hold- but for keeps. That’s Lisa’s child now. This is about less than thirty seconds into the movie, and that should clue you into the illogical slog you’re about to experience.
There’s just not enough material for a feature, maybe a short film. Which, I discovered, is exactly what this concept was before being given the green-light for feature development. Which is perplexing to say the least. I don’t know what the percentage of scripts getting greenlit versus the untold amount that never see the light of production is, but I can’t help thinking that countless better ideas were overlooked when this got made instead. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to go out and protest this film or wage an online battle against anyone involved in bringing it to fruition- it just made me wonder how many other films were sitting unmade while this got produced.
It’s really just a series of sketches more tailored for adult swim than the movie theater. For example, Jill’s son Julian is dragged from practicing piano, soccer, and to school but the kid is painfully pathetic at literally everything. He screeches in abject terror every time he’s slightly jostled by a softly lobbed baseball or when loosely brushed by his fellow teammates on the field. About halfway through the film he passes out into the pool at a local gathering and transforms into a golden retriever. Why? Nobody knows. Everyone simply treats him as if he’s still perfectly human. There’s also a murderer running around in the background breathing heavily and watching Jill’s family and muttering about Julian and events in their lives. I assumed that maybe Julian was somehow the murderer- but no. That thread goes nowhere, Jill encounters the murderer later as she walks into her home after divorcing her husband because her friends randomly suggest it to her on a whim- sorry, there’s a lot of odd context that is hard to keep track of throughout the film. Anyways, Jill just finds a large woman cooking in her home who aggressively screams that this is her house now, Jill apologizes, and then pauses to double-check with the intruder to make sure that it really isn’t her house before being pushed out into the street. This film’s scenes are just a bunch of non-sequiturs that could be rearranged in any order and it would make just as much sense as it currently does.
What we would normally call the plot, is completely nonsensical, devoid of any and all structure or any narrative meaning whatsoever. If there were at least one connecting idea through the film then maybe there would be something, but none of it connects, the main character learns nothing and accomplishes nothing. She floats through life and plainly accepts decisions made for her by insane people as if these preposterous choices couldn’t be undone- no matter how painfully stupid they may be. Again, I feel conflicted at times when discussing “Greener Grass”, I’m supportive of everybody and anybody getting out there and creating something, anything, but with this one, I found almost nothing of value. I don’t ask for much, but I mean, any nugget of cohesion would have been appreciated. This film feels like someone that was raised in an extremely privileged setting grew up not knowing the value of money or narrative and thought, “I bet I can make a movie” with no supporting thoughts to back that up. The one thing I did laugh at though, was that after Julian transformed into a dog his father played catch with his new dog/son (dressed in children’s clothes by the way) and he was so proud of Julian- because he’s faster now. Later when Jill confronts him about missing Julian the way he used to be, he looks at Jill confusingly and says, “Miss him? He’s right here, and he’s awesome now.” I have to agree, Julian was far more entertaining as a dog.
Oh, and I get it, comedy is subjective. All art is subjective. If this experiment works for you- then great! Every movie is somebody’s favorite movie, but I have a feeling that this one may have less favoritism than most. Personally, I cannot recommend this one, but you’re welcome to give it a shot!
Final Score: 13 Kids with Knives