Changeland Nov 6, 2019 17:43:58 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Nov 6, 2019 17:43:58 GMT -5
Directed by: Seth Green
Directed by: Seth Green
Seth Green and Breckin Meyer.
There should be a classification of films called "vibe movies;" films that just take you wherever they go while you adjust your speed accordingly. Maybe you know a bit about them, or maybe you don't, but regardless, they serenade you with visuals and a tone of eclecticism. That's the spirit of Seth Green's Changeland, a wayward look at how traveling and rekindling an old friendship can help you move forward, even when you feel like you're on auto-pilot.
The closest comp I can make is perhaps Harmony Korine's The Beach Bum, but that's unfair, given Green's directorial debut isn't remotely close to that tier of absurdity. Both films are defined by the denizens of an exotic location, only this time there's a greater sense of ennui and stagnation in the mind of our lead character, which has him in a rut not even bar-shots and good company in Thailand can remedy.
Writer/director Green (working under his Stoopid Buddy Stoodios umbrella) also stars as Brandon, a man who checks out of his suburban life and flees to Thailand, a trip he was supposed to take with his wife for their anniversary. He discovers his wife has been having an affair in lieu of their getaway, and instead reaches out to his closest friend Dan (Breckin Meyer), a professional photographer, despite having not seen him in about two years (note the correlation), to tag along. Thus, Brandon leaves his wife without a clue, and the two blokes embark on what could be a mind-clearing vacation if Brandon had the least bit of motivation to pick himself up off the floor.
Instead, the two mope around the beautiful country. They initially get mistaken for a closeted gay couple upon check-in before they decide to take a few boat tours, meeting potential romantic interests (Brenda Song and Clare Grant, Green's wife) in their tour guides. One of the most noteworthy cats they meet is Ian (Macaulay Culkin, whom Green co-starred with in Party Monster), a man who uprooted his ho-hum life and decided to move to a paradise. "Don't you miss your life?," Brandon asks him just before Ian persists him to try cliff-diving. "How can I miss my life when I'm busy living it?," Ian responds. That's what sets the tone prior to Brandon, Dan, and Ian going bar-hopping and stumble upon an amateur Thai kickboxing match.
If all of this sounds scatterbrained, it's because it is. Changeland implores you to go with the flow as you take in many of its random and sometimes head-scratching asides, such as WWE sensation Randy Orton playing an intimidating and philosophical hulk who encourages the pals to take more shots. Keeping things somewhat stable is the light chemistry between Green and Meyer, two men who have co-starred in many projects together. From Rat Race (a childhood favorite of mine, admittedly) to Green's brain-child Robot Chicken, the two are familiar, and believably capture that mild discomfort of two longtime friends coming together once again after having not spoken for an extended period of time. That awkward energy is a bit too sustained throughout the project, which gets Changeland stuck in something of a hard place itself. It's never brazenly funny enough to be called a comedy but it never permeates beneath the surface to be a loftier drama. When you have Green and Meyer at the center, two actors who have achieved success using enough different comic styles to be a cut above others, it's unfortunate to see their most obvious strength sidelined by Green's emphasis that the film stew in a sadsack fog.
The beauty in Changeland is largely thanks to Patrick Ruth's cinematography, which colorfully accentuates the natural beauty of Thailand. Ruth and Green's polish doesn't loan itself to looking like a post-card, and there's plenty of interaction with different locales on part of the leading duo that the scenery doesn't get relegated to the background. Green makes solid use of a country he admires enough to serve as the setting for his debut feature, but it's his own wheelhouse of comedy and quirky humor he sadly shortchanges in Changeland, thus making it limp in places where it should pop.
Starring: Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Brenda Song, Clare Grant, Macaulay Culkin, Randy Orton, Rose Williams, and Kedar Williams-Stirling. Directed by: Seth Green.