The Two of Usby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Greener Grass is a satirical comedy that feels as if it’s an extension of its two creators’ live comedy sketches or their 2015 short film. Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe are bubbly American comedians based in Los Angeles and they wrote, directed and co-star in the film, alongside comedy actors well-known in the US such as Beck Bennett (Saturday Night Live), Neil Casey (Ghostbusters), Mary Holland (Veep), and D’Arcy Carden (The Good Place).
DeBoer and Luebbe say they were inspired by John Waters – you can see that in the film’s taboo-busting, cringe-making set pieces. And Greener Grass looks like Stepford Wives or Desperate Housewives reincarnated in over-saturated DayGlo colours.
It’s set in a surreal version of American suburbia, its network of identical streets of well-kept houses so extensive that its inhabitants need to drive around them in golf carts, and it satirises that comfortable yet tacky society’s fixed smiles and exaggerated politenesses.
The two women play friends, a pair of mums, Jill and Lisa. When Lisa admires Jill’s new baby, out of politeness Jill feels obliged to give it to her and Lisa feels obliged to accept. It’s an absurd premise that becomes more and more gruesome as the film develops.
The candy-coloured, colour-coded visual scheme works well to create an environment where bizarre, unreal things like this could happen. Clearly the two women had a lot of fun together making the film, and comedy from a female viewpoint is always welcome. But Greener Grass ridicules a very American way of suburban life and social interaction that perhaps doesn’t have as much visceral relevance in this country: the idea is stretched thinly, it’s a laugh but the fun palls over a feature length film.
Greener Grass screened at Sundance London, Raindance and is released on 22 November 2019 in the UK and on demand.