Seen at the Sydney Underground Film Festival
Sometimes a film will ease you into its weirdness, it’ll start normal but be off the rails before the end of act two. Sometimes, a film just throws you into weirdness within 10 minutes and expects you to catch on. Then some movies start at “What the actual fuck is this?” and go from there. Greener Grass is the last kind of movie, a movie so profoundly strange that explaining it is a fool’s errand. I mean, I could try and describe the plot to you in some organized fashion like something resembling a professional but instead I feel like the best way to explain just how weird this film is would be for me to bullet point the top 5 weird things that happen in this film that, somehow, feel perfectly normal in context (context I won’t be providing because… well, you’ll see).
So, in reverse order, the 5 weirdest moments
5) A father obsessed with drinking swimming pool water
4) A mother, Lisa (Dawn Luebbe), shoving a soccer ball under her dress to pretend to be pregnant, then pretending to birth the soccer ball and raise it as a child. The soccer balls name is Twilson.
3) Every adult has braces. EVERY. ADULT.
2) The TV series “Kids with Knives” is a thing in this world and it basically turns one of the children into a psychopath
1) A young boy named Julian (Julian Hilliard) sings a depressing version of Happy Birthday to his pool-water obsessed father, before turning and falling face-first into said pool. He emerges from the pool as a Golden Retriever but is still treated as though he is just a normal child for the rest of the movie.
I did not make a single thing up, and those are just the top 5 insane things that I remember after watching the film several days ago. It’s nuts, it’s candy-coated crazy from start to end. Nothing makes sense in this wacky parody of suburbia that maintains a total deadpan tone throughout the film, never breaking stride for a second because we have to hurry along to the next bit of insanity. We barely get to accept the scene where our main character Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer) just casually gives her baby to Lisa because Lisa made a vague comment about how the baby is cute before we’re off to the next scene. It’s absolute pure insanity… and I loved every minute of it.
It takes a bit to catch onto the tone the film is setting here, it’s a very dreamlike film where logic flies out the window and pretty much anything can happen. It doesn’t even feel like there’s a plot, we’re just watching a few days in the lives of this very strange community that’s set up like Stepford on acid. If we’re going to push for a storyline, there is a recurring story about a murder in the town that was committed by a gloriously crazy woman named Little Helen, played by the film’s MVP Dot Marie Jones. This murder is possibly the closest thing that the film has to a narrative, but it’s more than willing to abandon it in favour of just watching our weird characters go about their lives in this strange little piece of fantasy America where everyone is passive-aggressive and more than a little quirky.
I’m not going to pretend this film is for everyone, your tolerance for weirdness may be different from mine. It feels out of time, like this should’ve probably been made in the late 70s and shown as a midnight movie where everyone was high and just got through a viewing of a John Waters movie and needed something weird but borderline family-friendly to take the edge off. The film is certainly weird and never even approaches being sane, but it’s not vulgar or anything. You could probably show this film to your kids, provided you want to break their sense of reality.
Greener Grass is one of the strangest films that I’ve ever seen and I honestly wouldn’t know how to recommend it to people. I genuinely enjoyed it and got a lot of belly laughs out of the insanity that I watched but it’s certainly the kind of film that many aren’t going to be into. My honest advice is to give it a shot and see how you feel after the first ten minutes, the tone is weird but it’s a fairly consistent weird tone so if you don’t get into it early then prolonged exposure probably won’t change that. Fortunately, I enjoyed the insane weirdness a lot so if you’re into the kind of film that forgoes logic for the sake of just being a wild weird thing that never even tries to make sense, then you’ll probably enjoy this.