×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Changeland’

A depressed cuckold and his best friend try to enjoy a Thailand vacation in Seth Green's scenic if slight feature directorial debut.

Director:
Seth Green
With:
Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Macaulay Culkin, Brenda Song, Clare Grant, Randy Orton, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Rose Williams, Kenneth Won, Somchai Santitharangkul.
Release Date:
Jun 7, 2019

Rated R  Running time: 86 MIN.

There’s a certain kind of movie that feels at least partly conceived so cast and crew could get paid for hanging out in some gorgeous vacation spots. The happiest result for such enterprises is that the audience should feel as though it’s had a 90-minute holiday, in addition to acquiring some very good ideas for a longer one. That mission is more or less accomplished by “Changeland,” Seth Green’s first feature as writer-director. He and Breckin Meyer play longtime besties on what should be a pleasure trip to Thailand, only the pleasure is severely undercut by one party’s self-pity over relationship woes.

It’s a polished, pleasant film whose locations all look duly spectacular — if you hadn’t dreamt of a Thai getaway before, you certainly will after watching. The eye candy, amiable cast and other attractions are all enjoyable enough that you can forgive how perilously slight the material here is. Green’s writing has previously been primarily confined (as has frequent collaborator Meyer’s) to the surreal ADD animation sketch-comedy series “Robot Chicken.” While “Changeland” merits credit for breaking out of that antic comfort zone, it really doesn’t try very hard to provide even the mild narrative substance needed to ballast a lightweight entertainment like this.

Still, its assurance in other departments suggests Green is more than ready for further behind-the-camera feature assignments. Gravitas Ventures is launching “Changeland” on 15 U.S. theatrical screens as well as VOD this weekend.

Sneaking out of his suburban U.S. home at dawn, Brandon (Green) boards an airplane in a state of stunned torpor. At a Dubai connection point he meets up with professional photographer BFF Dan (Meyer), who is ebullient at the prospect of several days’ partying in Thailand. It takes us a bit to figure out why his pal isn’t, and indeed why the two men are taking this trip: Brandon has just realized his wife is apparently having an affair. So rather than take her on the luxury vacation that was intended as an anniversary surprise, he’s disappeared sans explanation (or confrontation), hoping to lick his psychological wounds with reliable Dan’s shoulder to cry on.

There’s some middling comedy at the ravishing resort where they first land, with a hammily suggestive concierge (Kenneth Won) assuming they’re a closeted gay couple. Mostly the two go on day excursions where Dan tries to unblock Brandon’s emotions, while Brandon stubbornly clings to his self-piteous funk. It’s all a bit complicated by Dan’s admitting that Brandon has not, in fact, been a very good reciprocal friend, though not enough is made of this potentially interesting wrinkle.

Just past the half-hour point the protagonists move (alas) from awesome-looking Phuket resort The Slate to another location, en route meeting expat tour boat proprietor Ian, played by Green’s “Party Monster” costar Macaulay Culkin. The latter is fun as a flamboyant (if underdeveloped) character, but it’s at this juncture we realize that “Changeland” isn’t going to dig in on any level — it’s just going to drift along, sightseeing.

There’s potential romantic interest in the forms of Brenda Song and Clare Grant as two more boat tour guides; and a climax of sorts involving lots of drinking, amateur Thai kickboxing matches and WWE wrestler Randy Orton as an intimidating hulk who turns out to have a helpful philosophical side. But none of this really builds up much heft, dramatic or comedic. It’s a testament to the script’s genially undercooked feel that the movie ends without our even being sure that Brandon’s wife really cheated on him — or that he wouldn’t halfway deserve it if she did, being such a self-absorbed drip. These don’t seem to be doubts we’re intended to have, just the results of a screenplay that provides scant character backstory or shading.

Green, more typically the supporting sparkplug that juices scene after scene, stretches a bit too far in the opposite direction to play a depressive wet blanket we ought to feel more rooting value for. He cedes his usual role to Meyer and others who ably illustrate life-loving types, though again without a whole lot of writing depth to draw on.

Hollow as that may sound, “Changeland” is still an easy sit, thanks in part to the personable cast dynamics and an unhurried but lively pace. The main lure here, however is DP Patrick Ruth’s lensing of a series of knockout locations, with eye-popping verdant greens ranking first in a vibrant tropical color palette. Even if there are a few too many scenes here of scenic splendor or other visual stimuli accompanied by too many various-artist soundtrack cuts, the travelogue aspect is undeniably very, very attractive.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Changeland'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, June 5, 2019. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 86 MIN.

Production: A Gravitas Ventures release of a Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, Living Films presentation of a Karivara Films production. Producer: Corey Moosa. Executive producers: Sean Akers, Jonathan Gardner, Chris Lowenstein, Oliver Ackermann, Matthew Senreich, John Havartine IV, Eric Towner, Breckin Meyer, Jimmy Matthew, John Lee.

Crew: Director, writer: Seth Green. Camera (color, HD): Patrick Ruth. Editor: Elizabeth Yng-Wong. Music: Patrick Stump.

With: Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Macaulay Culkin, Brenda Song, Clare Grant, Randy Orton, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Rose Williams, Kenneth Won, Somchai Santitharangkul.

More Film

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Backstage in Puglia del film SPACCAPIETRE:

    'Gomorrah' Star Salvatore Esposito Set For De Serio Twins' 'The Stonebreaker'

    Salvatore Esposito, the Italian star who plays young mob boss Genny Savastano in Italy’s hit TV series “Gomorrah,” will soon be hitting the big screen toplining upcoming drama “The Stonebreaker” by twin directorial duo Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, who are known internationally for “Seven Acts of Mercy.” The De Serio twins are now in post on “Stonebreaker” [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Tops 'Joker,' 'Zombieland'

    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is on track to give Disney another first place finish after scoring $12.5 million in Friday’s domestic ticket sales. If estimates hold, the Angelina Jolie-led film should finish the weekend with about $38 million — well below earlier forecasts but enough to top holdover “Joker” and fellow newcomer “Zombieland: Double Tap.” [...]

  • Maelle Arnaud

    Lumière Chief Programmer Maelle Arnaud: 'Film History Doesn't Have Parity'

    LYON, France   — As the Lumière Institute’s head programmer since 2001, Maelle Arnaud helped launched the Lumière Festival in 2009 and has watched it grow in international esteem over the decade that followed. This year, the festival ran 190 films across 424 screenings in theaters all over town. The festival will come to a [...]

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

    LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin. Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he [...]

  • Wings of Desire

    German Heritage Sector Applauds Increased Digitization, Preservation Funding

    LYON, France  — Germany’s film heritage sector is celebrating a new federal and state-funded initiative launching in January that will provide €10 million ($11.15 million) a year towards the digitization and preservation of feature films. Rainer Rother, the artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, outlined the plan at a panel discussion at the Lumière Festival’s [...]

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content