Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Cooper Raiff, Dylan Gelula, Amy Landecker, Logan Miller, Olivia Welch, Abby Quinn, Juan Wood, Joy Sunday, Jay Duplass, Adan Rocha, Chinedu Unaka
Written by: Cooper Raiff
Directed by: Cooper Raiff
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, sexual content and drug/alcohol use
Running Time: 100
Date: 10/16/2020
IMDB

Shithouse (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dorm-Fitting

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The title certainly does not convey how actually sweet and nuanced this college-level character drama really is. Alex (writer/director Cooper Raiff) is a college student in California, lonely and homesick for his family in Texas. He even converses with a stuffed animal (who speaks back with the aid of subtitles). His roommate Sam (Logan Miller) is a hard-drinking scruffball, and an unfunny wannabe comedian. Making an attempt on the advice of his stuffie, he learns of a party at a fraternity dubbed "Shithouse," and he decides to go. Miraculously, he meets Maggie (the excellent Dylan Gelula, from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Support the Girls), and they hit it off. They spend an entire night walking around and talking, jumping into a late-night baseball game, and even holding a funeral for Maggie's dead turtle. The night ends well, but the next day, Maggie is suddenly cold and snappish, and Alex's attempts to find out what's going on make things worse. The amazing thing is that the movie respects both characters. Alex is guileless, while Maggie believes in changing gears to suit the moment, and they're both allowed to be right. Beautifully, lazily shot with an eye for natural spaces, the movie does take a bit too long to dig the characters out of their deep hole, but it's an endearing tale — sure to be a classic for college students of this generation — and a wonderful filmmaking debut. (It also includes a fine tip for keeping your hands busy while socializing at a party.)

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