Joe McClean’s second film, The Drama Club, is the story of a formerly tightknit group reuniting after 20 years. Old rivalries, deep-rooted romantic feelings, and huge secrets all get dug up and the titular Drama Club must come to terms with who they are versus who they were. It’s a relatable topic, most of us have moved on from our high school friends and in the rare situations where we do have reunions and run into one another, it’s never the same as it used to be. People move on, change, evolve…sometimes for the better, and often times for the worst. The crux of The Drama Club involves the group desperately trying to relive their glory days with mixed results, and thanks to a strong cast that makes the character’s friendship feel truly genuine, the film becomes something special.
“The Drama Club really shines during moments when the group experiences tumultuous infighting.”
The group of friends reunite due to a pact they made as teenagers. We watch as the characters rebuild their bond over shots and smoking week, trying to reclaim their glory days and lost youth. There’s Elle (played by Liza Seneca), the promiscuous one pretty much all of them have slept with, Cory (played by Jon Thomas), the lovable smartass, Luke (played by Chris Ciccarelli), the resident selfish douchebag borderline bully, Hannah (played by Melanie Lewis), the born again shy girl with an inferiority complex, Nathan (played by Barry Finnegan), Luke’s former bullying victim turned muscle head, and lastly Aaron (played by Dane Bowman), the mastermind behind the reunion who just so happens to be harboring a dark secret. Joining in with the event is Elle’s husband Keith (played by Mike Kopera), and Cory’s wife Kat (played by Chelsea Brandt). Keith has some insecurity about Elle’s past promiscuities, and all Kat and Cory seem to do is bicker and fight. The Drama Club really shines during moments when the group experiences tumultuous infighting. They find themselves arguing over politics, sex, religion, and lifestyle choices; it’s compelling to watch the group’s process their differences now that they’re grown adults living separate lives. Each one of the actors fit well into their roles and turn in an incredibly solid performance. If you’ve ever been around drama club kids, you’ll recognize the upbeat attitudes and peppy charm these actors impeccably nail.
“The Drama Club perfectly captures that sense of camaraderie between old friends, and the heartache that comes with growing up…”
There’s a scene that’s a bit shocking featuring a sexual situation rarely seen outside of porn. Let me get this out of the way, it’s not gratuitous in the way it’s shot, but the act is very apparent. The conversation that takes place afterward is incredibly progressive and a brave examination into the different perceptions involving gender and sexuality. The discussion is incredibly candid, honest, and shines a light on the double standards between men and women who engage in sexual activities. It’s a firm stance against slut shaming and possessive relationships. I’m reminded of Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy where similar topics are touched upon; people should not be ashamed of their pasts, and spouses should not look upon their significant others as property. I have to give writer/director Joe McClean major respect for tackling this subject with decency and veracity. I also have to acknowledge Liza Seneca for this scene, she absolutely killed it.
The problems I have with this film are minimal, but there’s a romantic subplot that literally goes nowhere between two of the characters. Everything involved with their relationship feels incomplete and wasted. What’s worse is the actors don’t have believable chemistry with one another, so it all feels really awkward. Individually the actors are fine, but when they’re together it didn’t work for me. The other issue I had is that there’s this major event that goes down where all of the friends rally around a certain character due to a dangerous situation. The story barely has any room to breathe after this incident before we’re whisked away into a completely unrelated disaster. It just feels like it’s too much drama back to back, and the climactic end scene suffers. I feel like one of these events should have been cut out of the film, preferably the last one.
I loved this film. The cinematography is incredibly well done, and there are some really heartwarming scenes that compliment the infighting between the characters. The Drama Club perfectly captures that sense of camaraderie between old friends, and the heartache that comes with growing up and potentially losing those connections that used to be so special and strong. The scenes where the movie cuts between the character’s younger and current selves always made me feel that nostalgic gut punch, and the usage of The Verve Pipe’s 1997 hit “The Freshmen” really captured the intended mood the film was aiming for. Despite its very minor flaws, this film was quite enjoyable, and I’ll be strongly recommending it to just about everyone I know.
The Drama Club (2017) Written and Directed by: Joe McClean. Starring: Dane Bowman, Liza Seneca, Chris Ciccarelli, Melanie Lewis, Barry Finnegan, Jon Thomas, Chelsea Brandt, Mike Kopera.
8 out of 10