What parents need to know
Positive role models
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that C.O.G. is a coming-of-age comedy/drama based on a story by humorist/essayist David Sedaris -- though his many fans are likely to be disappointed. The movie is strange, confused, and not very funny. It features a main character who may be gay, though the movie doesn't really discuss this. A sexually aggressive male partner tries to force the lead character into sex, but the attempt is stopped before anything very serious happens. There's also some violent imagery in the dialogue. Language is extremely strong, especially during the movie's first third, and includes just about every word under the sun. There are a few quick sexually suggestive moments, and adult characters occasionally drink beers and smoke cigarettes in a casual, background way.
What's the story?
Snooty Yale graduate David (Jonathan Groff) -- who subsequently goes by "Samuel" -- decides to go off the grid and find himself. He gets a job picking apples, but unwanted advances from a male co-worker, Curly (Corey Stoll), send him running. Penniless, he turns to Jon (Denis O'Hare), whom he met handing out religious pamphlets on the street (with the mysterious acronym "C.O.G." on them). Samuel joins Jon in his artistic vocation, making clocks shaped like Oregon out of jade and trying to sell them at craft fairs. At the same time, Jon tries to convince Samuel that he needs to embrace God and takes him to church. Samuel struggles with these concepts of faith, as well as more earthbound troubles.
Is it any good?
C.O.G. claims to be the first movie adapted from the writings of essayist/humorist David Sedaris, and, unfortunately, it's a huge disappointment. Sedaris' work is wry, self-effacing, witty, and often tender; this movie is simultaneously confused, arrogant, and passive. As with almost any movie told from the point of view of a writer, the lead character is only a passive observer and isn't at all engaging. Likewise, other characters never really come to life, because we only see them from one vantage point.
As for the movie's themes, it hints at the character's homosexuality but then totally ignores it and buries it until a final moment that's too little, too late. Plus, after a cynically humorous opening scene, the humor stops, the religious themes are introduced with the utmost seriousness, and finally, these, too, are just as suddenly dropped. Most disturbingly, a quasi-attempted rape is shrugged off as an awkward inconvenience. The only thing that's consistent about the movie is that none of it feels genuine.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
- Families can talk about the sexually aggressive "Curly" character. What does this character represent? How does he affect the main character? How does this violent episode change the mood of the story?
- How does the movie depict religion and/or Christianity? What do the characters get out of their belief? Where does their faith get tested?
- How does C.O.G. the movie differ from the original David Sedaris essay?
- Is this a "coming of age" movie? What does that genre usually entail?
|Theatrical release date:||September 20, 2013|
|DVD release date:||November 19, 2013|
|Cast:||Corey Stoll, Denis O'Hare, Jonathan Groff|
|Director:||Kyle Patrick Alvarez|
|Studio:||Screen Media Films|
|Run time:||88 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||language and some sexual content|