It’s easy to go into a film based around a house party and expect something more straight forward and easy going, with laughs centred around drunken misadventures and games of beer pong. While the film does include some beer pong, The Get Together otherwise rips apart the party genre (if there is one), with director and writer Will Bakke creating a thought provoking, clever narrative held together by several grounded, genuine performances that deserve all the attention in the world.
The story follows three intertwining stories, centred around four ‘main’ characters and an outlandish supporting ensemble. The first is August (played by a terrific Courtney Parchman), a college graduate who works as an Uber driver and finds herself at a crossroads, especially concerning her best friend. The next chapter centers around a couple Betsy (Johanna Braddy) and Damien (Jacob Artist) while the film closes with the story of Caleb (Alejandro Rose-Garcia), Betsy’s ex-boyfriend who we meet at the film’s beginning during August’s story.
All three stories are captivating and engaging from start to finish, with Bakke smartly leaving particular questions unanswered right up to the very end. Parchman’s August is a fantastic character to open with because of her genuine niceness setting up the film’s upbeat and sentimental tone perfectly. It’s a brilliant natural performance that deserves to give the actress huge recognition and a spotlight for more roles like this. Parchman is best in show, but a lot of praise must also be given to Rose-Garcia’s (also known as Shakey Graves) performance as Caleb. His character is the glue that holds the story together and intertwines these stories, and Rose-Garcia has the charisma to pull it off.
An argument could be made however that Rose-Garcia is perhaps too brilliant for the film’s own good. The chemistry between old flames Caleb and Braddy’s Betsy is undeniable, but so much so that seeing Betsy with her boyfriend Damien doesn’t feel right at all. Jacob Artist does a fine job as Damien, but the character itself feels unlikeable at times, with a couple of his key moments coming across as awkward because he doesn’t feel deserving of the film’s emotional high spots.
From the supporting cast, Chad Werner as the over enthusiastic Lucas is fantastic throughout, bringing so much life to the film and sure to be a fan favorite that wins the hearts of audiences. Preston Flagg has some hilarious moments as party host Garrison, while viewers will recognise Boyhood breakout Ellar Coltrane sporting a large face tattoo.
While Luxy Banner is good in her role, the character of McCall suffers from the same problems that Damien does. She comes across as unlikeable in her interactions and especially in the way she treats August, so it’s frustrating to see one of our beloved main characters put so much effort into a character not deserving of it. More redeemable qualities were needed to be shown with both characters.
Bakke deserves heaps of praise in only his second directed feature film. He handles the intricate threads of each plot carefully but expertly and never over complicates. It helps that he co-wrote along with Michael B. Allen, meaning he understands the tone that the coming-of-age script required. It’s a feel-good comedy that works just as well as an emotional dramatic character study, especially in the best scenes involving Caleb and Betsy and their existential questions. Suitable comparisions can be made with The Spectacular Now and The Edge of Seventeen, and any fans of those will fall in love with this.
For anybody fresh out of college or university, this film will hit particularly hard with the themes and questions that are explored by these characters. Is it worth it? Have the right choices been made? Is there any point to success if there’s no happiness? These characters get embroiled in these questions in many of their interactions with each other, but it’s easy as the audience to begin asking these questions too, a sign of any well-crafted and thoughtful script.
Overall, The Get Together is a wonderful feature with a much-too-short runtime that will make you wish you could find out more about these characters and where they head to next. The performances – especially that of Courtney Parchman – make this a very easy and enjoyable watch.