What Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe present in Greener Grass is possibly unlike anything you have witnessed before – a kind of fantastical suburban dystopia where Desperate Housewives meets The Brady Bunch at Halloween. The grass is certainly green, but in a sickly, saturated and fertile fashion. With a story so outrageously imaginative and creative, albeit slightly obtuse in its progression, Greener Grass promises to be an entertaining spectacle; and you could certainly call it that.
In a neighbourhood where adults wear braces and social status equals survival, Jill (DeBoer) and Lisa (Luebbe) are two suburban soccer moms in constant battle with each other for pride and communal standing. In a rash moment, Jill offers ownership of her new baby to Lisa, who duly accepts. However, little to Jill’s knowledge, this moment will prove a colossal turning-point in her life, placing a strain on her marriage to husband Nick (Beck Bennett) and irreversible repercussions on her relationship with her son Julian (Julian Hilliard).
Possibly taking stylistic inspiration from the works of Wes Anderson and Armando Iannucci, DeBoer and Luebbe – along with cinematographer Lowell A. Meyer – have shot the picture in an unquestionably captivating way, mainly due to its impulsiveness and outlandish tendencies. Every aspect of life is hyperbolised to the extreme, from everyday activities to the completely perverse personalities and conversations between the two protagonists.
Dressed in vibrant oranges, blues, pink and a bouquet of pastels, the characters fly around the community on golf carts in a sort of “Barbie World” trance. To Jill and Lisa, life is one big contest about who can go one up on the other and whose children prove the more talented.
Laughs are scattered endlessly throughout the movie, along with moments of disbelief at some of the absurdity being acted out before the viewer’s eyes – much to the benefit of the narrative, although for some this constant stretching of the boundaries of reality might become simply too silly. It is quite a demanding task to perform characters like these, but the entire cast does a fantastic job at selling the hilarious world they live in.
It is an entirely unpredictable 96 minutes, with the plot taking as many twists, turns and emergency stops as a roller coaster ride on ecstasy. You wonder where the inspiration and creativity for such a display could ever come from, but the reassuring fact is that DeBoer and Luebbe have placed an immense amount of time and care into the manufacturing of this ambitious feature, taking the idea through development as a short film and building a fully-fledged script from that material. Although little really happens, there is still a structural integrity that keeps the audience amused and interested as our heroine goes through her toils and troubles.
It is tricky to know what to expect from Greener Grass before viewing, but perhaps that’s the idea: to shock, bewilder and please all at the same time. It is bonkers, but it works. Without doubt, a cult following will descend upon this surreal feature like a swarm of locusts, and with good reason. Just be ready to have your eyes soaked in sugar and be slapped in the face from the moment the titles roll.
Greener Grass is released in select cinemas on 21st November 2019.
Watch the trailer for Greener Grass here: