Movie review: “C.O.G.” will gear up with David Sedaris fans

By Columbus Alive
From the September 19, 2013 edition

The poster for “C.O.G.” shares a critic’s blurb that feels a bit like a backhanded compliment: “David Sedaris fans will be thrilled!” Yeah, well, what about everyone else?

It’s probably pretty spot-on, actually, as writer-director Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s adaptation of a Sedaris essay nails the tone but has downfalls as a film.

Samuel (Jonathan Groff) is a young man from Connecticut who has decided to travel to an Oregon farm to work as an apple picker in a Steinbeck-inspired journey of self-discovery. “C.O.G” encapsulates his widely varied encounters.

Alvarez’s biggest faux pas is not handling some key tone shifts. When the light and quirky gives way to some serious moments, it’s easy to forget you’re watching the same film.

Groff does capture the wonderful, fidgety energy of Sedaris’ writing (in a character that is clearly the author himself in the story). The comedy of discomfort is a steady theme, and one Sedaris fans know and love.

Of course, if it’s only Sedaris fans who enjoy this, that’s still a sizable audience (myself included). The tone of the prose is here, even if the plot zigs and zags an awful lot for a feature film.