A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Greener Grass is an absurdist comedy made by improvisers from the Upright Citizens Brigade. Coming off like an extremely long SNL skit, it satirizes the pressure cooker of envy and expectations of perfectionism within a suburban community of parents. Moms and dads might get a knowing laugh, but kids aren't likely to appreciate that -- or the '80s aesthetic. But they might get a kick out of a joke in which a parent accidentally lets his son watch the (made-up) TV show Kids with Knives, and the boy instantly goes "bad": cursing ("s--t," "f--k"), kicking things, and smoking. Because of the movie's intentionally stereotypical, heightened, wacky tone, the iffy content -- including a killer on the loose, extreme close-ups of kissing, etc. -- never feels serious.
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What's the story?
In GREENER GRASS, a group of suburban friends is leading lives of pastel-colored desperation while competing with one another to be the most envied. But after Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer) spontaneously gives her baby to admiring friend Lisa (Dawn Luebbe), she starts to realize that being polite and accommodating is costing her everything she cares about. Plus, there's a killer on the loose!
Is it any good?
Upright Citizens Brigade mainstays DeBoer and Luebbe offer a ridiculous comedy that satirizes the judgmental politeness in suburban America. Greener Grass isn't bad -- it's just so unusual that many will declare it so (think of it like a live-action Bojack Horseman, and it will go down easier). Viewers who are willing to give creativity and originality a chance just might find something real among the absurd.
A tip of the hat to the oh-so-'80s production design: The movie boasts an '80s family sitcom title font, A Nightmare on Elm Street-esque synthesizer score, and home décor and costumes that are saturated in the bright pops of color that scream 1980s. Reminiscent of The Stepford Wives meets The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Greener Grass deliberately suggests a time when many middle-class Americans retreated to the outskirts of cities in master planned communities. The subject matter is neighbor envy (you know, "the grass is always greener on the other side"), but it's also a funhouse mirror reflection of the way that many people have created bubbles where they live among people just like them -- and how easily they can get trapped inside, with no way to escape.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about pressures to compete with friends/neighbors. Teens: Do you feel pressure to go along with the trends in your school? How do you respond?
Is it possible to be too polite and accommodating? How can we politely say no?
How do you feel about absurdist comedies like Greener Grass? Which makes a stronger statement: realistic entertainment or unrealistic entertainment?
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