By Terry Loncaric
spaceSome independent films trail off into so much weirdness you dont care to follow them.
spaceThere is nothing ponderous about "God, Sex & Apple Pie."
Even when the characters are in some fairly bleak situations, they still come across as likeable and sympathetic.
spaceJerome Courshons well-crafted friendship flick, in which he has a co-starring role, could easily turn moralistic and sour. This movie deals poignantly with disillusion in marriage, career and even life.
spaceBut the movie also has its funny moments, as each character finds a fork in the road of his life and discovers a way to handle it.
space"God, Sex & Apple Pie" is a story of 30-something angstsort of a new millennium "Big Chill," driven by smart, sexy dialogue and thoroughly engaging characters.
Nine friends, who are about as different as you can imagine, meet at their yearly reunion at a friends cabin for what they think will be a relaxing time.
spaceBut as the weekend progresses and much beer is consumed, the characters realize theyre all in some kind of turmoil and need to change the course of their lives.
spaceTim, the stockbroker, is up to his neck in a corporate scandal.
spaceAlex, the TV reporter, is tired of being married. Hes having an affair but feels guilty about it.
spaceTrent is struggling to make a living as an artist and cant commit to any of his girlfriends.
spaceRon, the nerdy postal worker, wants to go "off the wagon" and start drinking again. Hes about to go postal.
spaceThe scenes between the friends are so natural, you can actually picture close friends really talking this openly about their problems as life begins to close in on them.
spaceThis is a strong ensemble. None of the women are bimbos, and all the characters, male and female, are dealing with their struggles in the most human of terms.
spaceEven Alex, who seems like an arrogant jerk in the beginning of the movie, shows he has a human side because of a strong, but thoroughly natural performance by Mark Porro. Katy Kurtzman is quietly sad as Maggie, his wife.
spaceNone of these characters are quite as they appear. Ron seems grating, but hes really funny and charming. You can see that when at one point, he takes his painful childhood and turns it into a hilarious stand-up comedy routine. Phil Palisoul shows the sadness behind this characters sarcasm by revealing his vulnerable side.
spaceCourshon, however, steals the show as Trent, the compassionate philosopher who is good at helping everyone else solve their problems while struggling with his own baggage. Trent chides Alex when Alex says hes tired of being married. But Alex gives it to Trent for failing to sustain any of his intimate relationships. Trent admits he doesnt trust marriage because his parents got divorced.
spaceLike most friendship movies, "God, Sex & Apple Pie" has the obligatory big fight in which everyone disses everyone else.
spaceBut it also has some refreshing surprises, and the movie has interesting spiritual moments that are subtly revealed through the actions of the characters.
spaceI also enjoyed a scene in which the men are in a boat drinking beer, water skiing and talking sports, while the women sit on the rocks, talking about boys and girls theyve kissed, and what they hunger for in their relationships and their lives. This revealing scene illustrates how completely differently men and women relate to their own sex.
spaceCourshon has a knack for putting his characters on parallel paths in which they reach moments of clarification because someone else helped them see the truth.
spaceThe life-affirming moments in this movie are woven with the comic relief of the completely absurd moments.
spaceEven as the characters spout some of their simplistic platitudes, they seem completely sincere doing it. In real life, people try to simplify their lives by talking in stupid clichés, too.
spaceBecause Courshon has an ear for dialogue and can subtly weave spiritual truths into his story, he has created a movie that resonates with humanity.