Changeland (2019) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

Changeland (2019) is the feature film directorial and writing debut of Seth Green. If you’re familiar with Robot Chicken or many of Green’s characters in various movie and TV shows, then you would probably expect this to be a comedy full of dick and fart jokes. Instead, you get a rather mature comedy that looks at relationships and an upper-class midlife crisis story that was entertaining and heartfelt.

Changeland shows a lot of maturity from Seth Green as an artist.

Brandon (Green) takes his best friend, Dan (Breckin Meyer), on a romantic trip to Thailand that was originally planned as an anniversary gift for his wife. Brandon made a recent significant discovery and opted to simply get away from his normal life, resulting in him spending much of his time in Thailand learning about the culture, his relationships, and himself. Much of the film features the two guys exploring beautiful areas or landscapes of the country, while other moments are primarily of them engaging in discussion. This very much feels like the next evolution of mumblecore, where the 20-somethings are now hitting a mid-life crisis – which I’m completely okay with.

I really enjoyed this film. In fact, I think I may have enjoyed it perhaps a bit too much. I’ve been a fan of Seth Green for a long time, and that definitely led me into wanting to see this. What grabbed me was how different a character Green was playing, and his ability to be this broken shell of a man.  He allows glimpses into the person Brandon was before the moment we join him on this journey of self-discovery…but even he seems to be at odds with who he was. I like films that deal with introspection, even though they are often very white movies dealing with very human problems that are elevated a bit too much. Still, if a film is able to present characters that I can relate to for any number of reasons, there is a good chance I’m going to empathize or sympathize with their plight. Green is surely able to do that with this film, and I had a blast watching it.

I was very happy with Meyer’s performance, as I enjoyed him in Clueless (1995) and Roadtrip (2000) – but it had been a while since I remember really liking him in a role. Dan is a great foil to Brandon, and represents what we often think of as the “best friend.” Someone who will be at your side no matter what they’re in the middle of if you need them, even if you haven’t always been the best friend to them. Dan leans into some of the obvious best-friend-of-the-guy-with-a-broken-heart tropes, encouraging Brandon to drink a bit too much…but at the same time, his character feels more mature than you may expect. Does he hit on a woman he meets? Yes. However, he does so respectfully, and with a desire of actually making a connection and not just seeking a hook-up. There is a maturity to this film that I wouldn’t have expected from Seth Green, which makes the movie far more enjoyable.  

The best part about this film is that it weaves the introspection and sadness into some genuinely funny moments. Additionally, Macaulay Culkin and Randy Orton both show up in this movie, and to great effect. Meyer carries much of the early humor, but there are jokes strung throughout that feel very natural while getting some pretty big laughs (from me at least). Furthermore, the city and the culture of Thailand are represented very well in this movie. There is a great scene where Brandon and Dan end up in front of a Buddist Monk that I particularly enjoyed.

Final thoughts…

Changeland is one of those great little movies that may not change the world, but could absolutely connect big with individuals. Green has crafted a simple story about interesting characters who experience some fun and shocking moments exploring an exotic place. Did Green write this movie so he could take a trip to Thailand? It’s clearly possible, but I’m not mad at him because I truly enjoyed it. Changeland earns the Must See rating.

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