|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
2006 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
Choosing which films to see at a film festival that is chockablock full of
to decide based on the cast, particularly if there's an actor whose work I've
long admired is a member of the cast. So on that basis, I opted to see
FULL GROWN MEN, the directorial debut of David Munro, who co-wrote
the screenplay with Xandra Castleton. I was particularly interested in the
film because it starred Matt McGrath, a baby-faced actor whose credits
include film, TV and the stage.
McGrath is cast as Alby Cutera, a 35-year-old married father in
South Florida who seemingly hasn't grown up. Much to the dismay of his
wife, he enjoys "playing." Out of work, Alby spends his time drawing
comics or rearranging his collection of male action figures. As the film
opens, Alby is being thrown out of his home, and eventually seeks refuge
with his mom (Nadia da Silva) who appears to be in the early stages of
Alzheimer's disease. Her housekeeper/companion Teya (Zully Montero)
encourages Alby to reconnect with a childhood friend, Elias (Judah
Friedlander), and lacking any other ideas, Alby manages to track him
down. Elias now works as a special ed teacher and doesn't seem all that
thrilled about the reunion -- especially when Alby turns up to accompany
him on a trip to Diggetyworld (a thinly veiled Disney World).
The pair go on a road trip and I'm sure some critics will invoke
comparisons with SIDEWAYS as a result. There's some similarity,
but this film is doesn't involve romance. Its focus remains squarely on
Alby and the life lessons he must learn. Along the journey, he encounters
a psychotic ex-Diggetyworld worker (Alan Cumming), a former mermaid
(Deborah Harry), a weird bartender (Amy Sedaris) and a busload of
Elias' students, including Rollie (newcomer Benjamin Karpf who is a find).
Throughout the fim, McGrath anchors the movie, portraying a character
who isn't always sympathetic or likable but who remains compelling.
Friedlander plays nicely off McGrath and the pair are much more believable
as friends than the two actors in SIDEWAYS.
And yet ... for me, there was something missing. As if the writers
were trying a bit too hard to be cute or picaresque. There were things
in the movie I admired, but I didn't exactly like it. Yet it has remained with
me. So, I'd have to recommend FULL GROWN MEN, but with some