LURKING IN SUBURBIA

LURKING IN SUBURBIA
4 Stars
Year Released: 2004
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 100 minutes
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Suburbia. It’s supposed to be the place where happy families can live quietly close to a big city, maybe idling away their days fawning over new mini-vans and lawn mowers. Sprinkler in the yard, bad painting in the foyer and so on. But anyone who lives in suburbia knows a darker element has moved in. Not an evil element mind you, just a lost and somewhat out of place one.

Yes, I’m talking about that house full of thirty-somethings who have taken to the ‘burbs without fitting the profile. They’re idea of a “family” is the people they share the house with. Guys they likely have known since high school and have held onto in an all too obvious attempt to not grow up. Mitchell Altieri’s funny and insightful film “Lurking in Suburbia” deals with these type of ne’er-do-wells.

As “Lurking” fades in, we discover it’s the day of Connie’s (Egender) 30th birthday and, as usual, there’s a party. The night probably isn’t all that much different than any other night, except for a few more people come over and there’s a theme with which to drink. The day starts well enough as Connie’s roommate Sean (Child) nearly gets Connie laid (yeah, I said nearly). Even the gangs old buddy Danny, the one guy trying to get it together, has stopped by for the shin-dig.

What happens next is basically a “day in the life” leading up to the party which drifts into the actual party itself and ends with the requisite next day hangover. When it’s all said and done, “Lurking in Suburbia” is hysterically funny, totally inappropriate and above all, honest and truthful.

Had Altieri taken the easy way out, he could have made a thirty-something version of “Animal House” or a low-budget rehashing of “Old School.” But there’s much more going on here. Don’t get me wrong, the film is full of keg parties and gratuitous nudity. However, we get a sense of the lost soul inside the house. The brains behind the beer cup so to speak. This is done via the man of the hour, our party-guide and narrator Connie. A downright sweet guy who drifts through life day to day by riding the dying wake of a dream to become a writer.

Normally, I’m not a fan of voice over narration, but Connie addresses the audience directly (ala Ferris Bueller) which works well. Plus, Egender is just too hard to resist as he invokes a character that has a huge heart, but is also so lost in the beer haze he’s capable of just as many childish stunts as his cohorts. He reminds me of a less whiny Giovanni Ribisi and, mark my words, this performance will gain him some big roles.

“Lurking in Suburbia” isn’t a perfect film, but it’s a damn good one. There’s a couple of story lines that seem half-cooked and others seem to vanish for too long a time. But all the things done right here make up for those quibbles. It’s also really nice to see a young “indie” filmmaker try and put some perspective on the “party film” and not throw in a bunch of cheesy pop culture references for a cheap laugh and an even cheaper attempt at tricking the audience into connecting with the characters.



Posted on June 22, 2004 in Reviews by
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