Before We Vanish by Tanner Stechnij Film

Greener Grass | Dawn Luebbe & Jocelyn DeBoer

Photo: IFC Films

America has a sickness, and Upright Comedy Brigade alumni Dawn Luebbe and Jocelyn DeBoer have contracted and spread the disease with their absurdist suburbia horror-satire Greener Grass. The feature adaptation of the SXSW award-winning short of the same name sees Luebbe and DeBoer donning multiple hyphens, and the director-writer-actress-producer team has crafted a meticulous reflection on the cultural rot in the outskirts. Playing a pair of perfect soccer matriarchs, the duo leads a cast of disconcertingly familiar faces, like their interchangeable husbands — handled goofily by Beck Bennett and Neil Casey — or townspeople played by Mary Holland, D’Arcy Carden and Jim Cummings. They could live anywhere, but they happen to reside in a pristine, pastel town where golf carts assume the role of any wheeled vehicle. One day, while attending her son’s soccer practice, Jill (DeBoer) flippantly gives away her newest infant to her best friend Lisa (Luebbe) as a gesture of southern hospitality. Lisa apathetically and nonchalantly accepts, commencing a cycle of deadpan switcheroos in which children turn into dogs and soccer balls become babies.

Greener Grass never goes in the direction it seemingly lays out, and it maybe attempts too many genre ideas, but that feels forgivable when the aesthetic and the ideas that Luebbe and DeBoer trade in are so cozily perverse. Comparisons to David Lynch, John Waters and The Stepford Wives may all be apt, but Greener Grass is something as unexpected and zany as the duet behind it —the pair have become the toast of the genre festival circuit as they’ve traveled to audiences around the world to introduce the film while in elaborate costume. Unlike certain cast members (Beck Bennett, looking at you) Luebbe and DeBoer’s debut doesn’t rely on the cheap, overplayed offerings of the current administration for satirical inspiration. Instead, the auteurs reveal the disguised nastiness that’s hidden on the other side of any beltway: the always lurking threat of perfect appearances.

Published as part of October 2019’s Before We Vanish.

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