DVD Review: C.O.G.

STUDIO: Screen Media | DIRECTOR: Kyle Patrick Alvarez | CAST: Jonathan Groff, Corey Stoll, Denis O’Hare, Trojan Bellisario, Casey Wilson, Dean Stockwell
DVD RELEASE DATE: 11/19/2013 | PRICE: DVD $24.98
BONUSES: none
SPECS: R | 88 min. | Comedy drama | 1.77:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

 

Based on a 1997 essay by David Sedaris, Kyle Patrick Alvarez’ C.O.G. opens on a black screen with expletive- and racial epiphet-filled rant that is a comedic kick in the solar plexus. It’s an effective opening…

Things may not go downhill from there, but they do taper off into a picaresque comedy-drama of low-key charms with a brilliant acting turn by Tony Award-winner Denis O’Hare (Take Me Out).

C.O.G. movie scene

Jonathan Groff likes what he sees--and so does Casey Wilson--in C.O.G.

Yale student David (Jonathan Groff, Twelve Thirty)—who now calls himself Samuel (his own prophet?)—has become estranged from his family for presumably revealing his homosexuality. He and his friend Jennifer (Troian Bellisario, TV’s Pretty Little Liars) decide to live out there Grapes of Wrath fantasy by going West to toil with the migrant workers. When flighty Jen bags him, David is left to fend for himself, eventually joining forces with a born again amputee veteran (O’Hare).

The premise of an Ivy Leaguer dropping out to hang with the proletariat seems dated and C.O.G. might have been better presented as a period piece. Regardless, Sedaris and Alvarez are even-handed in their satirical barbs. The Christian community is treated with respect even if they can’t reconcile David’s contradictions, while the migrant workers are definitely not sentimentalized.

Visually, Alvarez and cinematographer Jas Shelton offer striking images of Northwestern farm countries.

Groff is fine as the innocent fool and comes through in scenes of emotional crisis. SNL ensemble player Casey Wilson brings maternal warmth as a Christian homemaker. Dean Stockwell, former moppet-haird child star (How Green Was My Valley) turned young adult sociopath (Compulsion) turned adult criminal perv (Blue Velvet) turned family TV star (Quantum Leap) is, oddly, filmed entirely in long shots as a landowner. (It’s a move that avoids the inevitable exclamations of “Oh my God, that’s Dean Stockwell!”)

The film, however, belongs to O’Hare as a man proclaiming he’s found the answers while demons leap from the pit of his soul. He’s the best reason to check out C.O.G.

 

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About David

David Leopold is an actor, writer and videographer who would take a Sherpa ride up a Tibetan mountain to see an Edwige Feuillère movie.