Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe are Los Angeles comedians and veterans of the improv group Upright Citizens Brigade Theater who are now making their debut as writer-director-stars of this painstakingly deadpan suburban satire inhabited by people from a spotlessly clean with notes from Stepford and Todd Solondz. The title may lead you to think it’s all about envy – the gnawing agony that your neighbors’ lawns are more lush, their SUVs bigger, etc. – but this is not the case, or not exactly.
DeBoer and Luebbe play Jill and Lisa, two competitive soccer best friends and housewives moms whose husbands earn a living; they live in a small, well-maintained community where people get around in golf carts. Jill has a strange urge to please people, so when Lisa says that Jill’s new baby is adorable, Jill impulsively offers it to her and Lisa accepts.
This bizarre glassy-eyed trade, accepted as perfectly normal by everyone involved but gradually regretted by Jill as a sleepwalker starting to wake up, colors the rest of the film with an air of surreal horror. Weird hallucinatory things happen, semi-symbolic metamorphoses occur, and Jill begins to lose her sparkle of perfection.
Of course, there is a fish-in-a-barrel quality to this film’s targets, and like so much satire, I suspected that “weird” is easier than “funny.” But it grew on me. There is something surprising about the TV shows kids watch, including a daytime adventure called Kids With Knives, and I loved Jill’s horrified reaction to her incontinent child Julian (Julian Hillard) who is yelling weirdly. : “Mom is a school! “I’m a mom, full of coins and clocks!” “
It creates its own self-contained, unhealthy percocet aesthetic, and it may be a film for contemporary America’s opioid culture.