Though others have told me that I’m crazy, I’ve often said that the period of somewhat extended adolescence that is everyone’s trip through their twenties (in age) is an era ripe for further examination. Why? Well, there’s that universal experience of adjustment – getting used to having no more classes, getting used to paying bills, getting used to the world of employment, getting used to paying bills, etc. – which would prove to be great catalysts with which to examine life itself. The teen years have been mined to death (for comedies, dramas, and dramedies), and Hollywood insists (it would seem) that life truly begins to find its greatness in one’s thirties and forties – you make some money, you have some kids, and you start to suffer the inevitable mid-life crises.
But to be twenty? Twenty-two? Twenty-five? Twenty-nine?
There are plenty of opportunities to find some inspired stories, as writer/director Sloan Copeland demonstrates in WET BEHIND THE EARS.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Samantha (played by an intuitive Margaret Keane Williams) had a great college career. She got good grades. She made lifelong friends. She (possibly) graduated with honors. However, her lack of experience has forced life itself to grind to a halt. Before she knows it, she’s back home living with her parents, and the world outside is passing her by. However, when a get-rich-quick scheme provides her with the opportunity to finally get her life on track, Sam is ready, willing and able to grab the bull by the horns … and – if she’s lucky – she just might take her family and friends along for success!
Like its name implies, WET BEHIND THE EARS ain’t perfect; but for all practical intents and purposes it’s darn near close enough. The script by Sloan Copeland mines that particular era in a young person’s life wherein dreams seem forever out of reach and reality feels like a smothering wet blanket draped over the shoulders. None of the twentysomethings he explores are necessarily “living the life,” but they’re approaching the day-to-day doing exactly what they can to make an honest attempt: some are escaping responsibility through sex; some are battling coworkers for a shot at merely being acknowledged; but they all know where they are now is, likely, only one stop along the way toward achieving a measure of personal satisfaction tomorrow.
Plucky and honest, Keane slips effortlessly into her role as the disillusioned Samantha, no doubt having plenty of her own experiences to use as fodder for as unglamorous a screen role as she can imagine. The lovely Jessica Piervicenti plays her best friend Vicky whose frustration at work doesn’t dismay her from pursuing life in the big city … even if that means having to tolerate the catty skank at work as well as her boundless nymph of a roommate at home. The rest of the players are all given small moments – ones that largely revolve around this lovely duo – but none of them emerge as shiftless or inane as most big studio releases would likely portray them. They’re all imperfect, though they’re collectively searching for perfect moments.
Copeland’s script suitably combines the worldview angst of Woody Allen along with the teen-years’ cynicism of the late John Hughes. Throw in a few dollop of new-age comedy via Judd Apatow (sorry, folks, but the man’s overrated!), and you get closer and closer to where WET understandably dips its feet in the pop culture. Like life, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, but it sure looks like it might be an awful lot of fun once we get past it.
WET BEHIND THE EARS (2013) is produced by Self Conscious Entertainment. DVD distribution is being handled by Cinema Libre Studio. As for the technical specifications? The film is smartly made from start to finish but there are a few sequences with a noticeable drop in audio quality (most likely the result of a poorly performing microphone); there’s even one section that could’ve used a softer mix. Still, these gaps don’t decrease the experience; they simply interrupt it briefly. If it’s special features you want, then be prepared to be disappointed: there’s only the theatrical trailer. That’s a big miss, as I wanted to spend more time with these characters and the actors and actresses who played them.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Prescient, bright, and (yes!) funny, WET BEHIND THE EARS is a charming li’l independent feature showcasing the talents of a young cast and a budding auteur. Granted, it has a few technical issues (some poor mike work) as well as some curious editing lapses which serve to modestly interrupt its narrative flow, but 90% of the time it’s very solid. It’s definitely an eye-opening experience that should be required viewing (so far as this online reviewer is concerned) for today’s generation of college graduates.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Cinema Libre provided me with a DVD copy of WET BEHIND THE EARS by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.
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