By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Comedic actress Judy Greer makes her directorial debut with this funny and often sweet comedy. Having worked with so many talented actors in her career probably made the casting of this film rather easy, as Greer and her casting director has assembled quite an ensemble cast. Though this film isn’t exactly a home run for the first time director, it definitely shows that she is quite comfortable and confident helming a film of tremendous talent and with decently written material.
The movie offers audiences a day in the life of people mostly connected in some way to an elementary school. It is a day where nothing seems to be going well for anyone. After single father Daniel (Common) drops his daughter Patricia (Storm Reid) at school, he has to face some stressful situations at his job. First of all, his affair with his assistant (Jennifer Garner) has been discovered by her emotional and angry husband Bob, who demands to confront Daniel at the end of the day. To make matters worse, Daniel gets accused of vandalizing the coffee machine in the break room which eventually costs him his job. Because of this unexpected development, he has no idea how he will face his daughter and her class, as he is expected to speak to them on career day.
Patricia is already having a challenging day, as the new kid Darius (Marcus Eckrrt) has become smitten with her and tries to awkwardly pressure her into an instant relationship. Dejected by her lack of interest, Darius seeks counsel from the shop teacher (John Cho) and the also despondent music teacher (Anders Holm) All the while, the school principals (Allison Janney, Rob Riggle) try to get a handle on a tragic and uncomfortable situation involving a dead landscaper.
Written by Gary Landy, Judy Greer’s first film may not actually be a happening of monumental proportions, but it certainly isn’t a bad way to start. The film offers a scattershot of comical dialogue, absurd situations and adults behaving like children while under duress. Enough of the humor works to keep audiences amused, but not all of the gags hit well. To its benefit, the movie has much heart and some poignancy. It may not be a masterpiece of comedy, but it sure is a fun time.
What also helps is that the film has an excellent cast, all of whom offer great performances. In addition to the cast members listed above, the movie also features some funny and entertaining turns by Bradley Whitford, Katie Holmes, Nat Faxon, Marla Sokoloff, Mary Birdsong, and Monica Young. I also rather enjoyed some hilarious cameos by Kumail Nanjiani and Keanu Reeves, both of whom are riotously funny in their scenes.
The film is getting a limited release in at least ten cities this weekend, including NYC and LA. It is a movie I would recommend for a fun and delightful time at the cinema. I certainly think that Judy Greer has some undeniable directing skills and feel that, with an outstanding script, she could really shine. A Happening of Monumental Proportions is highly indicative of this newly revealed talent.