Countless American comedies have made their fortune by cashing in on the dramatised college experience, but what happens when the wild college parties are over and everyone moves on? Well, this is exactly what Taking The Fall seeks to explore. Entering your early twenties is daunting as hell and adulthood can offer more lows than the adventurous lifestyle college life tends to, but what Taking the Fall grossly fails to do is to keep the audience engaged and pleased with the portrayal of millennial life. The stereotypes that the majority of the characters rely on are played out poorly, and this is only one of the surface level problems with this piece.
Taking the Fall follows Tyler (Munro Chambers), an ex-convict that has just got out of prison after serving six years for a crime he committed in college. His best mate Justin (Roland Buck III) and ex-girlfriend Kate (Katie Gill) rent a large pad for his first night of freedom, taking on the liberty to invite all their old pals and their new partners to the shindig, hoping to raise up Tyler’s spirits and make up for lost time. As you can expect, a great deal has changed since their college days, some people have 9 to 5s, entrepreneurial ventures and even children, while Tyler is starting from level 0, still probing the sobering reason as to why he spent so long locked up.
Tyler’s reason for being charged initially feels like it’s going to be the big plot reveal of the piece, only to be revealed about midway through by Kate’s fiance Zachary (Jonathan Dylan King), the official “douchebag” jock. Naturally, Tyler grows jealous of their engagement and the classic feud between men over the gorgeous Kate begins. Not one character seems to like Zachary, not even Kate, which makes his character feel more one-dimensional than first expected. You also have the cowardly shy friend Peter (Chris Sturgeon), the previous party girl who is now a mum Allison (Avalon Penrose) and Justin as the goofy bachelor best mate. Taking the Fall steals from all the classic American frat stereotypes without giving the audience any of the fun or comic relief that these films tend to give. Who is expected to gain pleasure from a clunky on-the-nose drama?
For the most part the dialogue feels unedited and unappealing, particularly the first catch-up between Tyler, Justin and Peter, which reads like the worst podcast in the world. Peter talks about his new kinky girlfriend, they all reminisce over alcohol they drank in college – there is nothing that screams worthy of being listened to in such detail, or rather at all. The pacing is rather strange, and most scenes seem to run for longer than necessary. It is unclear if this is a creative choice to bring the audience in to feel Tyler’s awkwardness from the evening’s interactions, which would be respectful, but it feels as though the true source of this flatness comes from a lack of filtering and weakly written characters. Clocking in at 100 minutes run time, it is clear that it certainly did not need to be as long as it is.
It is safe to say that entering the real world is far from what the old college gang expected it to be. Sure, they are underpaid, overworked and unhappy, spending the majority of the film complaining about it, but when you put this against Tyler spending over half a decade locked away for something they were all involved in, it becomes even more uncomfortable to watch. It feels like millennial stress artificially presented, in a way that feels rather insensitive to Tyler’s recent release, especially for a crime that has since been legalised in some states.
Becoming an adult is hard, and this film fails to show any optimism until right at the end of the story.
Justin breathes a lust for life into the film, to blow away the cobwebs of the depressive millennial existence, though his alcohol problem is unfortunately apparent. The final scene between Tyler and Justin almost makes up for the previous clunky dialogue and different tone placement, but it is too little too late. All that is left to say is that I can appreciate what Joshua Marble was seeking to explore, whatever that may have been, but its lack of formulaic organisation, worsened by the lack of tonal balance, is truly the final nail in the coffin.
Taking The Fall released on VOD platforms on April 9th, 2021