Kicking and Screaming

on October 06, 1995 by " Jean Oppenheimer
   Best friends Grover, Max, Otis and Skippy are going through a mid-life crisis at the age of 22. The film opens the night of their college graduation. Lethargic and apprehensive in equal measure, none of the lads feels emotionally prepared to enter the real world, but none is willing to admit or even face that fact. Noah Baumbach makes an assured writing/directing debut, but this will probably do best in the video marketplace; this twentysomething tale would be perfect to watch while vegging on the living room sofa, partly because its characters aspire to so little. Despite the quartet's inertia, the only slacker type is Skippy (Jason Wiles), who has the air of a stoned surfer without ever having to resort to smoking pot (although most of the characters seem to survive on a diet of cigarettes). Josh Hamilton ("Alive") as Grover and Chris Eigeman ("Barcelona") as Max are particularly persuasive as attractive but rudderless young men trying to find the courage to face life beyond the confines of collegia. The story also includes three women who have their lives far more together: teenaged townie Kate ("The Cowboy Way's" Cara Buono) who, at 16, is already grabbing life by the horns; Olivia d'Abo ("The Big Green") as Grover's lovely and scholarly girlfriend, Jane; and a Gen-X party girl (Parker Posey, whose routine in this type of role is becoming a bore). Eric Stoltz does a nice turn as Chet, a perennial college student who, now in his 30s, serves as both a comfort and a warning to the graduates. Pacing is deliberately slow and, although dialogue-heavy, the picture never feels talky. It also looks good, thanks to cinematographer Steven Bernstein, whose credits include the beautiful "Like Water for Chocolate.    Starring Josh Hamilton, Olivia d'Abo, Eric Stoltz and Chris Eigeman. Directed and written by Noah Baumbach. Produced by Joel Castleberg. A Trimark release. Comedy. Rated R for strong language and some sexuality. Running time: 96 min.
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