Young film-makers are often lazily labelled the next Spielberg; as if what youth aspire to is to be like the idiosyncratic talents from decades before they were born. Richard Linklater would be a much better role model to pitch for, given that he has a seemingly endless file of projects, and that he seems to drawn no great distinction between high and low budget films; he just gets stuff made and it’s usually good. Linklater is a useful way of introducing Will Bakke’s The Get Together, which belongs to a favourite kind of film; the chatty, party movie that runs in the Linklater canon from Dazed and Confused to Everyone Wants Some!.
Bakke shot some of The Get Together film as a proof-of-concept, a way of testing the water and showing how a high concept might work. The big idea here is a narrative that jumps back and forwards in time as we enter via different characters attending a party; not a completely uncharted territory, but rarely done well. In this case, however, The Get Together proves that a good movie can still be conjured up from these old bones. The first section deals with August (Courtney Parchman), who has a rodent problem, a flat-mate problem, and a sudden deluge of issues when she returns a phone left in her Uber to a party-goer at a remote house in Austen TX. Much like Peter Sellers in Blake Edwards’ The Party, August causes chaos wherever she goes, with revellers landing in swimming pools and some neat sight gags. So far so good.
The second story follows a young couple at the same party; Damien (Jacob Artist) and Betsy (Johanna Brady) are meant to be celebrating their upcoming engagement, except he’s scared to pop the question. The intervention of pinball August sends the engagement ring to an unknown destination, leaving Damien’s plans in ruins. And in the third section, we meet August’s ride, Caleb (Alejandro Rose-Garcia) and follow him on a tortuous route that leads to some kind of redemption, not just for him, but for the party as a whole.
The Get Together might sound like the kind of student film that just lies there and dies there, an idea that might sound cool in a pitch meeting, but is impossible to realise. Yet Bakke’s film works, not outstaying a minute of its 73 minute run time, and with plenty of smart, funny and ingenious scenes to savour. The humour, for once, is never mean-spirited, and there’s a Capra-esque bonhomie about how neatly everything works out. With a series of different leads doing good work, The Get Together is recommended everyone struggling with ‘adulting’; so don’t let your FOMO get the better of you, The Get Together is one party you really don’t want to miss.
Thanks to Vertical Entertainmnett and Newhouse PR for advanced access.
The Get Together streams from May 14th 2021 on all major US platforms.