Jonathan Wysocki, USA 2020
Writer-director Jonathan Wysocki’s coming-of-age and coming out comedy, set in 1994 (before distracting “social media”), is thoughtful, humorous and empathetic. Rose (Anna Grace Barlow) is hosting an at-home, character-costumed, sleepover friend-fling. Tomorrow she leaves early college-bound for the Big Apple. Claire’s (Megan Suri) next, and then Oscar (Nico Greetham) heads north to LA before Ally (Danielle Kay) takes off. So, Gene’s (Nick Pugliese) not sure it’s the right time, but if not, when? They've been faithful friends throughout high school, bound by their (parents’) Christian beliefs and conservative southern California principles. Nevertheless, they’re passionate about memorable movies (particularly, classic novels’ adaptations) with stimulating, crazed protagonists.
Rose, in character, opens the door to Claire before Oscar, also in character, strolls into the room seconds before Ally. Finally, Gene arrives—rather paltry costume, Jekyll—and games commence with a whodunit. There’s a crash in the kitchen, and a “murdered” body’s found, plus artful clues. The hunt is on. Intermission’s called when pizzas are delivered; the deliverer is none other than JD (Zak Henri). A gifted high school dropout, JD’s commentary is somewhat supercilious, especially his one-word descriptions for each of them that flatline their fun: clandestine, beguiling, puritanical, grandiloquent, and callow. After he’s gone, as evening stretches into night, the five experience emotional fun highs, and soul-searching lows. The aftereffect of JD’s tagging is perceivable as remarks, unguarded and/or frank, demand each is on her/his mettle.
The delightful cast imbues their characters with temperament and élan; their strengths are viable, as their weaknesses are understandable. Topics of discussion are varied: dating (don’t), religion vs. atheism, sex (only after marriage) and sexual orientation, truth, smoking and drinking, etcetera. Production values are commendable; Christine Kim’s editing could have been tighter. DRAMARAMA’s a fun look at taking the plunge and leaving home to stretch one’s wings.