Director: Anderson Cowan
Writer: Anderson Cowan
Starring: Peter Mayer-Klepchick, Cameron Duckett, Nicole Dambro, Jesse Pudles
The film centers around two all-American high school jocks Brad and Dylan (Peter Mayer-Klepchick and Cameron Duckett) who are out for a night on the town when they are approached by the beautiful and seductive Meg (Nicole Dambro) at a local bar. Ready for what they hope will be a night to remember, the guys are subsequently kidnapped, drugged and awaken tied up face to face in an abandoned pool in the middle of nowhere. Absurdity and insanity ensue as we learn that Orin (Jesse Pudles), Meg’s overly flamboyant brother has been the target of Brad and Dylan’s homophobic bullying and that Meg is actually a grad student who plans to perform a psychological and somewhat sadistic experiment on them as part of her thesis, which poses the question, “is homosexuality a choice”.
C. The premise and the opening of Groupers feels like something that could work very well on a low budget and still be inventive. However, the major issue for me came from the feeling that a theatre person wrote the film. I say this not because the film has a certain “theatricality” but rather because the movie spends the whole time telling us, rather than showing us. Not only that, but it tells us in a way that feels like the screenwriter was saying to himself the whole time, “look how smart I am.” Out of two jock, “bros,” there’s the smartish one and the dumb one. It feels like the dumb one’s purpose was to add a sense of comedic relief to the film that is supposed to deal with heavy subject matter but doesn’t show that weight. Instead the dumb one constantly asks “what is she talking about”, “huh?”, and so on, to which the other characters are forced to explain in fine detail what’s going on… and sadly it’s not that hard to understand. We are left, as the audience, spending most of the movie being fed exposition that we already gathered for ourselves. If you’re making a project that is based around a science or philosophical experiment that may need some explaining to the common audience member, there’s a way to do it. You don’t have to talk down to the audience or bog yourself down in egotistical explanations that feel like they’re coming from the screenwriter and not the character. There are countless examples of how to do it… meaning any half-decent movie with a type of science as the central focus.
While we’re on the topic of science, let’s move over to Meg’s “thesis.” Her groundbreaking thesis is on if homosexuality is a choice. Did she just not do any studying? The fact that the topic has been researched and used as a thesis for many decades, how did her academic mentor not say, “hey, maybe you should expand on that idea a bit.” That thesis is basic as hell, and what kind of school would even accept that as an appropriate dissertation? She deserves to fail.
There’s a saying that goes, “if you want to send a message, use Western Union.” With anything you watch you can probably find some thematic elements. Some are as broad as just love, while some could be as specific as Reaganomics (They Live). However, if you spend most of your time preaching your message over telling a decent story, it doesn’t matter how important your message is because you lose your audience. You find that the message the movie is going for feels like it’s a day late and a dollar short. Yes, most of us know that bullying and homophobia is bad. Most of us know the answer to Meg’s thesis (thanks to many years of scientific research). I get there are exceptions in the world but to be honest, those people are probably not going to watch this movie. So what does it add besides preaching to the choir? Nothing.
If this is being used as demo reel content for the cast and crew then I think it’s perfect. There are solid enough spots to highlight everyone involved. As a complete piece… I don’t know what to say.
J. I should preface this review by stating that before screening this, I saw what will probably end up being my film of the year. That said, if I watched Clownado again before this, it would make no difference in my opinion. Groupers is scene after scene after scene after scene of characters talking. Lots and lots of talking. And then more talking. Then even more talking. And none of the dialogue is ever that interesting. You can feel the drag in nearly every instance. I found myself thinking, is this really still going on? What the fuck? The “story” centers around a character’s grad school thesis about homosexuality being a choice or not. Nearly everyone on the fucking planet knows the answer to this “problem” unless you’re as dimwitted as everyone in this movie. The structure of the script tries to be interesting by including flashbacks to how and why certain things show up in certain scenes but the fact is, I didn’t give a shit about why any of this stuff was happening. And ultimately, just like the film itself, none of it mattered. From a logic standpoint, there are so many things that don’t add up that it would fill a goddamn novel length of material. The characters are all not only dimwitted but annoying as all hell too. The film tries to be funny and in some cases, because of the dimwitted characters, it succeeds but marginally at best. There is zero action in this ungodly one hour and forty-nine minute slog. I mean fucking zero action. It’s like watching a surveillance video of the most boring shit on the planet. This film almost broke me is what I’m trying to say. See if you can sit through it. I fucking dare you.
K. Groupers starts off decently enough with a long take that leads us into a bar and up to two drunk guys trying to dance with a girl, who then leads them out to her van and abducts them. This is the best part of the film. No dialogue has been exchanged. She takes them to an abandoned house and restrains them in order to exact revenge for her brother under the guise of a social experiment to finally answer the question: is homosexuality a choice?
If this sounds ill-conceived and idiotic, that’s because it is. This scenario is drawn out endlessly. They talk around things to draw out the run time to a whopping 1 hour and 49 minutes, waaaaay too fucking long for this film. Way too long. There are six editors credited and not one of them thought to cut all the unnecessary flashbacks used to introduce characters and then show them observing events we’ve already seen. A Tarantino flourish that was painful to sit through.
Overall, the acting was so-so, the technical aspects were solid, but once again we’ve got a dud of a script combined with what seems to be quite a bit of dull improv which results in a torture test of a viewing experience.
C. As I already stated, the opening and premise offered an opportunity for an early filmmaker to really allow themselves to shine. Unfortunately, they all got lost in trying to tell an “important” story that they forgot to tell a compelling story.
J. Somehow, this fucker has an 8.2/10 imdb.com user ranking. That is un-fucking-real. I already said that this one almost broke me. And my tolerance level is extremely fucking high for bullshit. But this one… oh man… there was zero conflict. There was zero action. There were characters telling the audience what the movie was supposed to be about. Multiple times. It was one hour and forty-nine minutes long for fuck’s sake. Ugh, thankfully this is behind me now and Godspeed to anyone who chooses to go down this path.
K. This tried way too hard to masquerade as a zeitgeist movie with the homosexuality and bullying angle. The mash-up of revenge film and black comedy failed miserably. The dialogue lacked any narrative drive or character development, instead it redundantly stated the characters’ predicament repeatedly and failed to really go anywhere, which is why this was so hard to sit through. Clearly, the filmmaker was very inspired by Tarantino, given the title sequence defining what a “Grouper” is and the many flashbacks to introduce characters and fill in unnecessary details.
This is another case of competent technical aspects paired with incompetent storytelling, made all the worse by the attempt to be clever and pedantic. So...yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and recommend that you never watch Groupers.
Bloodhound’s average score: 1/2 out of 5