Cemetery Junction Movie Review
The comedy-drama Cemetery Junction, a quasi-coming-of-age story from writing/directing duo Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, arrives on DVD on August 17, 2010. The movie, which never managed to achieve a theatrical release in the U.S., is about a group of friends in 1970's England who are looking for love and an escape from their depressing hometown.
Gervais, best known to U.S. audiences as "the British Michael" from the British version of "The Office," plays a surprisingly small role in the movie despite his prominent placement in ads and promotion. Aside from Ralph Fiennes, he's the biggest name in the film - but plays a rather thankless part as the subdued father of the main character Freddie (Christian Cooke).
"Subdued" is a good word to describe the humor in Cemetery Junction. The movie has funny parts and some witty dialogue, but it's a different brand from what you may expect of the Golden Globes host. When all is said and done, no one would describe Cemetery Junction as a "laugh out loud" comedy.
It is, more than anything else, a lighthearted drama. The focus lies on Freddie, whose best friends (Tom Hughes and Jack Doolan) seem content with living and growing old in "the Junction." He lands a job as a door-to-door salesman and begins to realize that the world is larger than just his hometown, though he's afraid to become like his successful but cruel boss, played by Fiennes. He also falls in love with his boss's beautiful daughter (Felicity Jones).
The drama isn't powerful but it isn't supposed to be; it shifts between humorous and more realistic situations on a regular basis without delving into melodrama. Cemetery Junction is a well made, well directed movie. Simultaneously, it isn't original or stimulating. In other words, it's entertaining to watch but easy to forget.
Cemetery Junction should have embraced Gervais' style of humor more and taken greater advantage of its supporting cast, which includes great actors like Fiennes, Emily Watson and Matthew Goode. Watson gets one or two strong scenes, but the supporting cast - including Gervais - is generally wasted. The leads do a good job, but none of their characters are memorable. When you think back on the best coming-of-age tales, whether it be Stand by Me or American Pie (if that qualifies), the characters have distinct personalities that remain defined years afterwards; the same can't be said about Cemetery Junction.
Good but not great, entertaining but not truly funny, Cemetery Junction is an easy watch. But given how many movies are released in the year, the movie lacks any standout qualities.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.