Cuddle Party (Matthew Irving Epstein, 2016): USA

Reviewed by Phill Hunziker, as part of the Comedic Shorts program at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2016.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Well, the relationship between is the two leads in Cuddle Party is broken, and I’d still advise that they don’t fix it. That is because their attempt to do so will negatively impact any person in their proximity.

Jane (Michaela Watkins) and Drew (Ron Huebel) are so close to divorce, it’s a wonder they can be in the same room as each other. Each shares blame for their current state and agree to one last Hail Mary attempt to save their marriage; a cuddle party. The organizer of the session, Allison (Yvette Nicole Brown), does her best to maintain her eloquent composure but there’s only so much a person can take. The other attendees’ lives will never be the same. These two people are seriously that insufferable.

The two leads are as human as you can be. They are so hopelessly flawed but are also authentic and surprisingly sentimental; both piquing the interest of the viewer. Their complexities and lack of any sort of filter make them polarizing figures to the audience and absolute atrocities to those around them within the film world. Together they’re a firestorm of cynicism and conventional rudeness. That makes for solid entertainment.

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