Teenage angst revisited in indie “Donald Cried”
Comedy. Unrated. 85 minutes.
The former high school buddies who become reacquainted in “Donald Cried” do so under awkward circumstances. Then again, just about everything that happens in this low-budget comic drama is awkward. The movie is so fixated on embarrassing legacies that it ends with a Milli Vanilli song.
Peter (Jesse Wakeman) returns to his snowy Rhode Island home town with two goals: settling the affairs of his recently deceased grandmother, and avoiding Donald (Kristopher Avedisian, the movie’s director). The two were metalhead best friends some 25 years ago, but Peter has grown up and gotten a Manhattan job he vaguely describes as being “in finance.” He suspects, rightly, that Donald has not changed.
Forcing the two together is essential to the script, which was written by Avedisian (from a story conceived lives at home, works in a bowling alley and sleeps under an autographed poster of a naked porn star.
That development is inevitable, although the movie does muster a few nifty surprises on its way to Peter’s ultimate surrender. There’s a bizarre revelation at a nursing home and an abortive hookup with a high school crush (Louisa Krause) at a highly inappropriate venue.
“Donald Cried” takes a purely functional approach to storytelling. Ted Arcidi has an outrageous turn as Donald’s belligerent boss, but the focus is on Wakeman and Avedisian’s unwavering performances. These are encapsulated in a scene where the two men pose for a photo: Donald is as frisky as a puppy, while Peter has a forced smile and one eye on the door.
Viewers may identify with him. “Donald Cried” succeeds on its own modest terms, but watching its title character can be painful. This is not a movie for people who’d just as soon forget their own teenage mortifications.
Jesse Wakeman, left, and Kris Avedisian in “Donald Cried.”