CAPSULE: Sloan Copeland is co-producer/co-writer/ director for a comedy of two women in their early twenties finding their plans and hopes killed by the sick economy. The film is a comedy with a serious, hard-as-rocks truth that a college degree is not assurance of a great future. This is a very good narrative until the last fifteen minutes and then all of a sudden the world turns rosy and the serious part of what has gone before gets blown away and replaced by a happy, happy contrived ending. One has a feeling that Copeland as the writer had a crisis of faith that the audience would want a more realistic closing to the film. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
Samantha "Sam" Phelps (played by Margaret Keane Williams) has graduated college and is going out into the real world. But she has a plan. She is going to get a good job in advertising in Manhattan. She and her best friend Vicky (Jessica Piervicenti) are already renting a terrific two-bedroom apartment and will live together. There are minor problems with Vicky wanting spend outside their budget, but with two good paychecks things will probably work out. Sam is surprised that Vicky does not know how to manage money in the real world. But a bigger shock comes when Sam's great job in advertising falls through. Now Sam is in the job market and *nobody* is hiring. Eventually she takes the only job that is offered--she goes to work in a friend's father's ice cream store and moves back into her parents' house. As she puts it "Our whole lives have been preparing us for this moment, and I can't even get out of the starting gate." Oh, the shame of letting all her high school enemies find out that she cannot get a better job than scooping ice cream.
Meanwhile, Vicky cannot share the apartment with Sam so has to find a housemate to replace her. The film splits into an A-plot--Sam trying to get work and possibly a career--and a B-plot--Vicky trying to find a housemate. Both are suffering a bad case of great expectations slamming into a wall of reality.
For most of its length WET BEHIND THE EARS tells a fairly believable story of the sort of financial problems people will see in the real world. It engages the viewer and explores serious problems albeit with an edge of humor. Copeland manages to keep the film going and under control until he needs to end his story. Then the film flies completely off the rails. He has his characters commit a fairly serious crime--ironically one that rarely if ever shows up in a film--for which there are no consequences whatsoever. Samantha has been a sort of everywoman for women her age. All of a sudden she finds a way to show she has a monstrous talent and everything starts working for her. She shows the world that she really is a genius by doing something that she could have done 75 minutes earlier in the film. It is the most amazing reversal of fortune since GRAVITY.
This is Williams' first feature film and the camera seems to like her. There is something reminiscent of a young Tuesday Weld in her looks. Her greatest flaw is diction. She needs to preserve that freshness of youth while learning to annunciate a little better. Piervicenti more than keeps up with Williams as the hopeful housemate.
Though much of the film seems to be about today's economy, some elements seem out of date. A look at as breakfast table seems to have one item perfectly positioned for a product placement. Also we get some outtakes under the closing credits. And another reminder of the past, the New York City two-bedroom apartment seemed to have a surprisingly low rent.
This is the first film I have seen for which movie piracy is a major plot point. One would expect the film to be extremely opinionated on the subject, but the film says little more on the subject than that it is criminal. For a small, independent comedy WET BEHIND THE EARS is nicely polished. I would give it a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2607378/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/wet_behind_the_ears_2013/
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2014 Mark R. Leeper