Original Leisure & Entertainment

Tales Of Survival & Friendship ~ At The Movies With Kasey

Do you ever watch a heavy, emotional movie and need something silly to counter how you feel when the credits roll? This week, I am pairing Society of the Snow with two comedies for just that reason.

Available on Netflix, Society of the Snow tells the story of a Uruguayan rugby team stranded high in the Andes after a plane crash in 1972. Suffering and exposed to the elements, the survivors (featuring Diego Vegezzi, Esteban Bigliardi, Fernando Contingiani, Esteban Kukuriczka, Francisco Romero, Rafael Federman, Valentino Alonso, Tomas Wolf, Agustín Della Corte, Felipe Otaño, Andy Pruss, Blas Polidori, Felipe Ramusio, Simon Hempe, and Luciano Chatton) reckon with difficult choices and agonizing suspense about if and when they will be rescued. The film is based on a true story, so it is hard to consider information about the plot real spoilers, but for those unfamiliar with the outcome, the tale features enough harrowing twists that I do not want to say more.

While we watched this movie, my husband kept checking the thermostat. The production team does an incredible job setting the scene and using special effects makeup to show the declining health of the survivors. It is no surprise they were nominated for Oscars in Best International Feature Film and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Although I felt at turns nauseated, thrilled, and deeply moved, the impact of the film comes not only from artistic choices and a distressing story. The talented ensemble conveys the conflicted emotions of the survivors in stark detail. For example, in a scene when the team hears on the radio that the search for them has been called off, the despair they feel is depicted so convincingly, that I understood how in that position it would be easy to simply lose your mind. Although the team works incredibly together, standout performances are given by Agustín Pardella and Matías Recalt as Nando and Roberto, who emerge as leaders. As Numa, the narrator, Enzo Vogrincic creates a steady perspective for the audience.

Despite the shocking details of the story, Society of the Snow treats its subjects with love and respect, marking the passing of each member of the doomed flight with a mournful tone and protecting their dignity as the survivors tried to in the moment. There is also a twist with the narrator that I found heartwrenchingly beautiful in its context. Thoughtful creative choices framing the story make Society of the Snow more than a tale of misadventure and survival, but a deep portrait of friendship and teamwork under the worst of conditions.

Society of the Snow (La sociedad de la nieve) was directed by J.A. Bayona, who wrote the screenplay with Bernat Vilaplana and Jaime Marques. It runs 144 minutes and is rated R.

Hulu offers a much less serious survival story. In Self Reliance, Tommy (Jake Johnson) is feeling depressed and lost when Andy Samberg (himself) steals him away to meet with a pair of mysterious businessmen. They offer him a chance to play a game in which he will be hunted for thirty days by even more mysterious killers. The catch is that Tommy can only be killed if he is alone. If he survives, he gets a million dollars. Realizing that he can easily win the game if he always hangs around someone, Tommy takes the offer. The problem is that no one in his life believes him and his personality tends to put people off.

The brainchild of its star/writer/director, Jake Johnson, Self Reliance showcases his trademark wry, self-deprecating humor. The characters are a band of misfits, but I wanted more development among the supporting cast. The film criminally underuses Mary Holland and Emily Hampshire, whose comedic performances would have been a good match for Johnson’s if given more room. Anna Kendrick’s Maddy, the love interest, also fails to develop meaningfully.

Nonetheless, the plot is tightly developed with funny beats, especially after Tommy hires an unhoused man, James (Biff Wiff), to follow him around. The final twists also give the story a satisfying conclusion and a comedic punch. It is not an especially well-developed movie holistically, but I was engaged, wondering how the story would play out.

Self Reliance was written and directed by Jake Johnson. It runs 85 minutes and is rated R.

Finally, if you have not yet watched Leo, Adam Sandler’s animated film for Netflix, I highly recommend it. The adorable tale of Leo (Adam Sandler), an elderly class pet who believes he is in the final year of his life; his turtle friend, Squirtle (Bill Burr); and the mean teacher (Cecily Strong) who starts sending him home with the students, is the perfect combination of salty and sweet. As Leo talks to the fifth-grade students about their secret problems and insecurities, he finds meaning in his life and helps them learn important lessons. My favorite part is his song about how crying is stupid. The film is far funnier and more endearing than I expected. While not inappropriate for kids, it has a steady stream of jokes aimed at adults.

Leo was written by Robert Smigel, Adam Sandler, and Paul Sado and directed by Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel, and David Wachtenheim. It runs 102 minutes and is rated PG.

Kasey Butcher

Kasey Butcher

She is proud to be a Ft. Wayne native, a graduate of Homestead HS, Ball State University & Miami University. She became involved with journalism editor-in-chief for her high school magazine. She authors the "At The Movies with Kasey Butcher" review. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer