“Have a drink whore”
A self-proclaimed ‘hang out’ feature, Mark Lewis‘ Wild Girl Waltz is the kind of low budget comedy you don’t mind spending 82-minutes wading through sporadic nonsense for the laugh-out loud gems mixed within. Focused around Brian (Jared Stern), his sister Angie (Christina Shipp), and his girlfriend/her sorority sister Tara (Samantha Steinmetz) as they look to have some fun despite mundane existences caught too far away from both college and middle age, a couple unidentifiable pills of elicit pharmaceuticals can only help alleviate their boredom. But as their travels across town through treed fields and sparsely populated neighborhoods continue farther and farther from the initial high, thematic insights on the trials and tribulations of twenty-somethings begin to uncover the universal truths of our lives’ quest towards finding purpose.
It’s a not a great day for the trio as Angie is pelted by a drive-by milkshake right before Brian must hunt down an old friend for borrowed money. This is what they have evolved into: the butts of jokes and whipping boys of a town they once ruled now resting upon their shoulders like an albatross. Who can blame Tara for wanting to break free of the repetition with a little drug Russian roulette? She’d be able to cut loose, Angie could forget her sorrows, and Brian could earn a big laugh as the sober babysitter. Sure the journey is going to have its fair share of ups and downs as the level of stimulants in their blood fluctuates, but good trip or bad the craziness ensuing would at least be something new.
Credit Lewis for finding a central cast that really gels and appears to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Wild Girl Waltz would be nothing without this fact. Between the quick-witted barbs thrown around by all, Brian’s sardonic commentary on the girls’ imbecilic actions, and their childlike giggle fits devoid of inhibitions, it’s cool to watch them fool around onscreen without any overwrought drama to weigh things down. There is no end game they must work towards; no antagonistic foe they must defeat. Lewis has simply built a premise and allowed his characters to run free without consequences. If they need to chew old hairy gum from beneath a bar for a bet, they can. If a burly woman oversteps boundaries and becomes deserving of a punch in the face, let it be given.
Admittedly, a lot of this insanity does end up being random and without any true purpose besides being the catalyst to new conversations or a laugh before being forgotten, but I’m not sure anyone should expect more. The film is about reliving the stupidity of youth despite the frustrations maturity and adulthood bring. Does Brian want to spend his day constantly listening to the two girls yammering on about inconsequential topics while trying to ensure they don’t get into inebriated trouble? Of course not. That doesn’t mean he won’t gain something from the experience of watching uncensored versions of the two women he most cherishes in his life. Witnessing them engage in a game of patty-cake with nothing but innocence and joy on their faces is a moment he may never capture again.
And this is what Wild Girl Waltz does best—taking snapshots of unfiltered fun when such a thing is so often frowned upon by decent society. We all need a release and while I—and assumedly the movie—don’t condone drug use, an escape from the daily grind should never be labeled bad. Why not experience the plain, predictable landscape of home with new eyes? What’s a little harmless fun with your mother’s friend and her uptight bookkeeping for the dissemination of homemade pies? When did we all become so serious when life has the potential to be so much more? Have a drink and a dance at your local watering hole in the afternoon for laughs with the bartender, wreak some vengeance on a couple pranksters—responsibility will be waiting for you in the morning.
I’d love to hear Lewis treated the film in much the same way Christopher Guest does his with an outline of circumstances and outcomes his characters can play within. Stern’s quips at the absurd actions of his girls are so dry and perfectly timed with sarcastic expressions that knowing they were of the moment would be great to hear. The same goes with Steinmetz’s propensity for bad accents and Shipp’s facial contortions of disbelief and rage. A bit long in the tooth with an extended opening credits sequence of nothing but music over roadside views and a few skits that while funny seem out-of-place and tonally odd, what these kids get right is their depiction of friendship and all the highs and lows that come with it.