It’s always nice to see an actor showcase their writing and directing chops. Moreover, when the work they turn in the first time out is unlike anything they’ve done before, that’s all the more exciting. In the case of Seth Green, his broad comedy background would lead you to assume that his first outing behind the camera would be a raunchy laugh riot. While Changeland, out this week, is a comedy, it’s far lower key and resembles something closer to Garden State than Family Guy or Robot Chicken. Green definitely has some filmmaking chops, crafting a pleasant and lightly moving picture here.
The movie is a comedy about dealing with pain and finding yourself. Brandon (Green) has invited his childhood best friend Dan (Breckin Meyer) on a trip to Thailand. It’s not meant for him, however. Brandon had prepaid for this vacation as an anniversary gift to his wife. Unfortunately, he’s just found out that she’s having an affair. So, Dan it is. Knowing that his buddy is hurting, Dan does his best to cheer him up, but Brandon is stuck trying to figure out what to do about his marriage. As this debate goes on, they explore Thailand, going on a number of excursions and tours, all meant for a couple enjoying their second honeymoon. Through it all, they run into a whole range of eccentric characters, from fellow tourists to natives, each of whom help to loosen Brandon up and show him how there is more than one way to live a happy life and enjoy the experience to its fullest. Green writes and directs, with the supporting cast including small parts for Rachel Bloom, Macaulay Culkin, Randy Orton, Rob Paulson, Brenda Song, Rose Williams, and more.
Seth Green pulls off something tricky here. He mixes the sometimes deadpan yet heartwarming tone of Garden State with the broken hearted getaway vibe of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Green includes some catchy songs, utilizing unusual musical cues, helping to create a style all his own. The laughs almost always service the plot, as opposed to cramming in bits. Despite the premise that could lend itself towards sophomoric humor, it’s a respectably mature work. Green leans in to the complexity of being at odds with yourself. There are no easy answers, something he acknowledges throughout. Moreover, everyone here is a nice person. It’s rare to see, and actually quite refreshing.
Changeland isn’t a one trick pony. Besides being a vehicle for Green to demonstrate his writing and directing skills, this also reminds audiences that Breckin Meyer is a solid actor. Green is a strong protagonist, though Meyer often steals the show with some amusing little asides. They’re a well paired team here, with the easy chemistry that comes along with being actual friends. A bit more about Meyer’s character would have been nice, but this is Green’s story, so he’s the one that the background is given to. Without question, what Green has crafted here suggests a future behind the camera, if he chooses.
On Friday, don’t you let Changeland be ignored. Independent features like this, even coming from a name actor, can easily fall through the cracks. Support Seth Green’s directorial debut. It’s an indie that almost certainly will make you smile. It’s easy viewing, with more than enough hints that Green has a real wonderful movie in him. Whether we get to see that depends on if this film gets seen or not. Make your voice heard and give it a shot. You’ll be glad that you did. Especially if you’re a fan of Green and his prior work, this will be a real pleasant surprise…
Be sure to check out Changeland, in theaters and On Demand this weekend!