Brace Yourself for Greener Grass’ Absolute Absurdism

A headlong dive into a pastel rabbit hole.

The comic image of adult women wearing braces was used to great effect earlier this year in Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle’s terrific Hulu series PEN15. It’s used to simultaneously lesser and more desperate effect in Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe’s feature comedy Greener Grass, so much so that the opening credits are over a minute-long closeup into DeBoer’s character’s braces. It’s intentionally gross and unpleasant, but like the film itself, there doesn’t seem to be a deeper meaning. (Another red flag is that the film’s own description says it’s “destined to be an instant cult classic,” which isn’t how any of that works.) Jill (DeBoer) and Lisa (Luebbe) are mothers competing with each other in a pastel suburbia where weird things happen constantly — Jill’s son turns into a dog, for example — but everyone takes the weirdness in stride, so nothing matters. Jill is the ostensible protagonist because she has something resembling an emotional arc, yet she’s so often a part of the random weirdness that it’s difficult to identify with her. Greener Grass’ production design is a marvel, and many moments might work as standalone sketches, but like sex or violence, absurdism for its own sake eventually becomes its own kind of pornography. As the old saying goes, the grass is greener over on PEN15.

Not rated. Opens Friday at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission.

Related Stories