Full Grown Men
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Alby (Matt McGrath) never really grew up,and he doesn't want to. At 35 years-old, he surrounds himself with action figures that blind him to the fact that his young son is the most mature man in the house. So when things get a little too…adult, Alby leaves his family and heads to his mother's house, where he can lie on the couch and watch his beloved martial arts show reruns. While his childhood maid cleans around him, he is suddenly reminded of his best friend from school, Elias (Judah Firedlander). As it turns out, Alby made Elias' life, past and present, awful by saddling him with a not so nice Spanish nickname. Fearing irreparable karmic damage, Alby tracks Elias down. Although Alby's life seems to have stood still, Elias' world has changed. He is now a drama teacher to mentally challenged children and well-liked by all. Alby invites himself along on Elias' class trip to an amusement park, and what starts out as a fun road-trip turns into a bumpy ride. Along the way, Alby runs into a slew of failed romantics, including a disgruntled ex-theme park employee (Alan Cumming), a bartender working her way through clown school (Amy Sedaris), and a delusional ex-Weeki Wachee mermaid (Deborah Harry) who points Alby in the right direction. David Munro's oddly charming directorial debut is alternately quirky, heartwarming, and funny.
Director's Statement Collapse
At age 35, my father had a career, a wife, three kids, and a Kiwanis Club membership. At the same age, I was in a band, living alone, wearing Converse sneakers, and chasing the dream of making movies. Sensing an incongruity, and in light of feature articles in The New York Times and elsewhere on the phenomenon of "Peter Pan-demonium," I realized that I was not an isolated case. What began as a valentine to guys I grew up with became a meditation on the act of growing up. Full Grown Men is the coming-of-age tale of a man, and a generation, that is struggling mightily to come of age. Lacking traditional markers into adulthood, my generation of thirty- and fortysomething men have been dragged kicking and screaming into the world of responsibility and self-reliance, clinging to childhood talismans like action figures and the Cartoon Network. We are not our fathers, and the jury is out on whether this is a good thing. Of course, arrested development is not an earthshakingly novel premise for a film, but extended adolescence is. Our main character doesn't fear commitment (he's married), and he doesn't pine for keg parties or Vegas hookers with his former frat buddies. He just really, really wouldn't mind being twelve years old again, and maybe, like, forever. Alby Cutrera was the king of childhood. Faced with a demanding present and an uncertain future, he decides to venture back and relive the golden days of yore with his boyhood best friend Elias. The problem is, Elias has grown up, in spite (and really because) of the sometimes cruel and manipulative treatment he received as Alby's sidekick as a kid. Their dueling versions of history-by a man who lives for his past, and one who barely survived it-are tragically and comically incompatible. The two old friends embark on an Oz-like reunion tour to Diggityland, the Valhalla of their youth and a place that makes no adult demands, retracing a trip they took as kids. But memory lane is not the easy street Alby hoped he'd find. Along the way, he meets a rogue's gallery of failed romantics who shed light on the pitfalls of holding on too long. From a disgruntled former theme park employee, to a bartender working her way through clown college, to a delusional ex-Weeki Wachee mermaid, each new character pokes a fresh hole in Alby's notions of the idyllic days of youth. A closet artist, Alby does a running picture math throughout the film, rendered on the backs of placemats, bar coasters, and motel notepads. His drawings are like his psyche turned inside out. He's trying to compute the integers of a life in reverse, through sketches, cartoons, and innocuous thumbnails; turning the knife of self-satire in a series of fractured introspections. It's no coincidence that this journey takes place in Florida, where I grew up. It's the place where Ponce de Leon, Walt Disney, and countless starry-eyed developers have for centuries peddled the idea of neverending play and recreation. The Sunshine State is a lot like Alby: playful, troubled, and full of unfulfilled promise, memories of sunnier days, and a rambunctious nature that hides a fear of what's underneath. Like the dilapidated kiddie attractions that cling to Florida's back highways, Alby is a man in a party hat standing around long after the candles have been blown out; a goony bird bounced from the nest without any operating instructions. In the music, design, and visual schemes, the film makes bold choices full of life, atmosphere, and impulse. The palette is slightly overripe: Crayola melt. It isn't a Florida that is or was, but reather a place of living nostalgia. The music is what I call "melanpoppy": sugary pop with an underlying sadness, like Smile-era Brian Wilson, where you hear the singer valiantly holding onto an innocence that he knows is slipping away. People who only know Disney's version of Peter Pan miss the point. In J.M. Barrie's original, eternal youth is something to be wished for at your peril. This is Alby's dilemma: how
Film Information Collapse
[FULLG] | 2006 | 80 | Narrative Feature
Directed by: David Munro and Steven Lippman
Foreign Title: (Full Grown Men)
Language: English, Spanish
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About the Director(s)Collapse
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, David Munro earned a B.A. in political science from Brown University before going on to study Cinema at San Francisco State University. His senior thesis, First Love, Second Planet, premiered at the Seattle Film Festival in May 1996 and has since won Best Experimental Film at the UFVA Student Film Festival. David's previous film, Bullethead, a stylized political allegory about an East German luge racer with a surgically-streamlined head, has screened at Sundance, Chicago (silver plaque winner), Cinequest, Berlin Interfilm, Sao Paulo, Viennale, Locarno, Melbourne, Short Circuit (Paris), and at the Los Angeles Film Forum. The film also appeared on PBS' Alive TV series. Prior to returning to school, David worked at Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising, where he wrote and directed a number of award-winning television commercials for a variety of clients.