Review: Turf Valley

Written and directed by Adam Rodgers, co-written by Thomas Ventimiglia, Tyler and Jason are confronted by the enormity of “The Duke” football and the hand size of their new neighbour. Starring: Phillip Chorba, Vince Eisenson, Jayson Ward Williams and Charles Mann.

For such a long time media that was centred around themes of masculinity veered into toxic atmospheres, arrogance, unhealthy competition and usually a good dose of sexism. What’s so refreshing about Turf Valley is that it doesn’t even have an inkling of that, it explores masculinity in a genuinely positive manner. The style of its comedy is genuinely funny in a very casual and natural way. It creates an atmosphere of ease with a jovial nature, and its characters are individual but hugely relatable. One of the key elements to the success of Adam Rodgers and Thomas Ventimiglia’s writing is that they don’t overpower anything, it’s not trying too hard to be manly or push over the top humour. There’s a huge confidence in that, it’s not an easy thing to pull off with many typically falling into saccharine or artificial territory.

Rodgers’ directorial style holds a good amount of personality and charisma, enhancing what it’s already getting from the cast. You could have used a simple static set-up here but Rodgers adds in a nice amount of movement, using handheld to push the energy higher. It creates an easy-going and casual atmosphere, it draws you into this story effortlessly and isn’t pushing for slapstick or melodramatic humour. It’s a very everyday tone with the enthusiasm dialled up slightly.

Opening with Phillip Chorba and Vince Eisenson, the two have a strong chemistry and it would be hard not to be convinced by their friendship. Chorba brings a lovable quality, he’s cheerful and energetic. Eisenson has a really down to earth feel as Tyler, being annoyed about your Amazon delivery getting messed up is something we can all easily relate to. Then introducing Jayson Ward Williams adds another layer, one that’s unusually thoughtful and gives the film’s atmosphere further to go. Adding in former NFL star, Charles Mann is the icing on top, and much like the rest of the film he fits in comfortably and naturally.

Turf Valley presents what has been so frequently missing, a comedy about men that doesn’t alienate a wider audience. It’s not toxic or arrogant, it’s fun and positive, the characters and the style are both endearingly charismatic. The leading trio have a strong connection and they’re highly enjoyable to watch at work, immediately leaving you wanting more. It’s easy-going, entertaining and fills a definite need for more casual watching with enthusiasm and relatable personalities.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Screening as part of FirstGlance Film Festival on 16 October | For more info click here

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