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Worth A Look37.04%
Just Average: 3.7%
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2 reviews, 15 user ratings

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Full Grown Men
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by Marc Kandel

"...and the Action Figures that love them."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: ďFull Grown MenĒ tackles a manís late and awkward passage from carefree childhood to adult responsibility. Jumping between introspective drama and whacky road trip comedy, it is an entertaining yet uneven plot with some decent performances, some jokes that work, some that donít quite fire off like they should, and a protagonist who may or may not have learned his lesson.

Alby has lost none of his zest for simply childhood play. His son is at best, a fellow playground companion and at worst, a toy, while his wife, once charmed by Albyís fun-loving world view has grown weary of being the sole adult in the family. Albyís genuine love for his wife and son are without question, but things have come to a head, and in a fury Alby walks out with only a bag of his most valuable action figures, unable to reconcile his disdain of maturity with his responsibilities as a husband, father and provider. Refusing to give in to the pressures and demands of adulthood, now he must figure out how he can rejoin his family and get his life back on track without sacrificing his simple values and more importantly, his action figures. Cue road trip.

Matt McGrath, despite a tone and cadence suggestive of David Spade on Vicodin, gives us an Alby that is both selfish and self-involved. Obnoxious and barely likeable, his most redeeming value is his obvious tenderness and affection for his wife and son and the pain he feels in not being able to stay with them (something McGrath carries off splendidly). His constant (borderline whiny) pondering over why people have to grow up and his pathetic attempts to reconstruct his childhood are at times poignant, amusing, yet increasingly grating, not only to the audience but everyone he encounters, most prominently, his childhood friend Elias (Judah Friedlander), whom Alby seeks out after retreating to his motherís home.

Alby is overjoyed to rejoin his friend and recapture old times. Elias, despite initial welcome, is quickly put off by Albyís frozen in time mentality and resurfacing memories of childhood teasing and torment from Alby, who was the alpha personality to Eliasí loyal, affable victim. Despite Elias attempting to distance himself from Alby and set boundaries, he finds himself once again the accomplice to Albyís schemes as Alby obnoxiously invites himself on a trip Elias is taking. Alby convinces Elias to detour in an attempt to sell his valise of action figures to a prospective buyer. This ideological and monetary attempt to win his place back into his family misfires when Alby discovers that the crown jewel in his collection is the one figure he has given to Elias in a fit of sentiment.

Elias, now an exceptional special ed teacher adored by both his students and peers is disturbed to see old patterns emerging as he spends more and more time with Alby, culminating in a hilarious fight which is about the best adults fighting as children choreography Iíve ever seen (for those of us who had shoving matches in a car with their friends). The relationship created here is the filmís strongest, a believable re-creation of childhood friendship and adult awkwardness. Much of this rests with Judah Friedlander, whose Elias is the perfect representation of that one friend you had who would put up with and go along with anythingÖ to a point.

The film also takes a turn towards the surreal, as our manchild Odysseus, journeying through distant lands (aka Southern Florida) on a quest to get back home (only slightly less Southern Florida), encounters a host of odd characters, each designed to enlighten Alby through destruction (Alan Cumming as a former character at Albyís favorite theme park, now a disgruntled, unstable ex-employee out for vengeance), deconstruction (the potential buyer of Albyís collection- a man who brutally dissects Albyís ideology and personality), temptation (Amy Sedaris as a barmaid/clown in training), violence (a pack of midget bouncers) and seduction (an older, sensuous mermaid played by Deborah Harry). These elements are uneven taken by themselves, some seemingly inserted purely as quirky laughs, but I suppose from the journey perspective they do their job in breaking Alby down so he can build himself up.

Amid these surreal moments, Alby also encounters Eliasí students and fellow teachers, and despite a wonderful moment of bonding with one of the kids which regains Alby some humanity, his near-redemption is destroyed when stupidly tries to entertain these trusting, sensitive children with a story of how he used to torture Elias, hence Alby being cast out and set back to the more extreme lessons he ends up learning.

The end of the film sees a wiser, more self-aware Alby, but at the same time, we see so many moments of insincere sentiment on Albyís part, blended with some outright bad decisions right after one thinks heís learned something, that I just donít trust the character at this point. The film asks for a leap of faith. Your choice whether to give it or not, I wasnít given enough by the end to buy it- but that doesnít necessarily make it a bad film, just one where I did not leave with a sense of positive conclusion to Albyís character growth.

Whichever way you choose to view Albyís journey, itís certainly an interesting one, and the dynamic between McGrath and Friedlander is a fascinating capture of old, uneasy friendship. Check it out and give an indie film a chance.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14343&reviewer=358
originally posted: 05/01/06 17:13:46
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2006 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Florida Film Festival For more in the 2007 Florida Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/15/06 Kristina C. Girls grab your boyfriends, husbands...they just might learn something. 5 stars
6/02/06 Tuntul Obijuwai Saw at Tribeca-excellent-beautiful picture- funny. 5 stars
5/13/06 BB Charming and at times VERY funny. 5 stars
5/07/06 Dana Loved the movie! Very funny!! 5 stars
5/03/06 Hanna Boundy It was a great movie directed and produced by a great uncle and aunt. 5 stars
5/03/06 MLE Beautifully acted and directed, funny and thoughful. 5 stars
5/02/06 Lisa R Lovevd Judah Friedlander but really thought film wasn't spectacular.Sorta just there. 3 stars
5/01/06 Jan Z. Olsen It's a coming of age/maturity story for a late blooming 30ish guy. Along the way, there ar 5 stars
5/01/06 BryanS Actors play their parts well, great photography, funny and thought-provoking 5 stars
4/30/06 wendy saw it at the Tribeca Film Fest. It could be a biggie. See it if you can! 5 stars
4/29/06 AF smart, deep, thought-provoking, beautifully shot 4 stars
4/29/06 rrh well done. very entertaining. 5 stars
4/28/06 KHS Small film, skillfully directed, well-acted, nice imagery 4 stars
4/26/06 rosanna fun and touching - my favorite kind of story 4 stars
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  DVD: 25-Aug-2009


  DVD: 25-Aug-2009

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