Paralyzed by postgraduation ennui, a group of college friends remain on campus, patching together a community for themselves in order to deny the real-world futures awaiting them. Academy Award–nominated screenwriter Noah Baumbach’s hilarious and touching directorial debut was one of the highlights of the American independent film scene of the nineties, speaking directly to a generation of adults-to-be unable to reconcile their hermetic educational experience with workaday responsibility, and posing the eternal question, where do we go from here? Stingingly funny and incisive, Baumbach’s breakthrough features endlessly quotable dialogue, delivered by a stellar ensemble cast. —The Criterion Collection
Baumbach made his writing and directing debut at the age of 26 with Kicking and Screaming (1995), a comedy about four young men who graduate from college and refuse to move on with their lives. The film starred Josh Hamilton, Chris Eigeman, and Carlos Jacott and premiered in 1995 at the New York Film Festival. Baumbach was chosen as one of Newsweek ’s “Ten New Faces of 1996”.
In 1997 he wrote and directed Mr. Jealousy, a film about a young writer so jealous about his girlfriend that he sneaks into the group therapy sessions of her ex-boyfriend to discover what kind of relationship they had. He then co-wrote (under the name Jesse Carter) and directed (under the name Ernie Fusco) the New York-set comedy of manners Highball. He co-wrote The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) with Wes Anderson.
His 2005 film The Squid and the Whale was a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama about his childhood in Brooklyn and the effect… read more
CC#349: If Yi yi captured life at large, Kicking and Screaming captures *my* life at present. Personal resonances (Max, mon amour) aside: ironically, almost sophomoric, as a production artefact of '90s cinema. Or perhaps, that’s merely part of its look: insular sets as the hermetic environment, ostentatious dialogues simply the register in vogue (and still cuttingly sharp), the arrogant haughtiness and jaded dispositions the psychological resistance. In dissection of personality complexes in communal settings, Baumbach stakes his voice.
The film needed more Chris Eigeman. But, then again, what film doesn't need more Chris Eigeman?
It's good, it's sweet. The writing is probably the showiest element here, but I feel it doesn't always work. It's not always forced, but it seem like it's trying. Hard. The characters I don't really care for. Maybe because I couldn't distinguish them. They were all too similar. But in the end, it's a good start. I definitely prefer Baumbach's latest work, but this is enjoyable.
It’s ironic that so many fans of Wes Anderson find the films of Whit Stillman, Noah Baumbach, and Hal Hartley, to be made in poor taste. The common complaints really are ones that should be lobbed… read review
Indie comedy from writer-director Noah Baumbach has a lot of great, clever dialogue, and effectively creates an atmosphere of post-grad desperation – but the characters and story are just not compelling… read review