Writer-director Anderson Cowan divides the movie into chapters. Each section is named after the focus of the piece—Meg and The Boys (for Dylan and Brad) are the first acts. Meg’s setup and kidnapping of Dylan and Brad, then Dylan and Brad at the bar and picking up Meg. The structure works quite well, as it allows the most exciting scenario—the experiment on the bullies—to be introduced early on. For the first two stories, Groupers soars high. Meg’s biting comebacks to Dylan and Brad’s overuse of pejoratives against her and the LGBTQ+ community at large are amusing.
It is also lovely to see a different view on the effects of bullying. Traditionally, such horrors are presented either through the prism of a bully learning better, or the victim trying to survive. Rarely are the family and friends of the abused and how these hurtful acts affect more than just those directly involved discussed. It is a fantastic lens with which to explore those impacted and a fun spin on the revenge genre—not revenge for yourself but a loved one. This adds weight to the intense punishment the jockeys are being put through.
“Rarely are the family and friends of the abused…discussed.”
The three actors all do a stellar job. Dambro is fierce and convinces the audience that while extreme, her methods are justified. As Brad, the more stoic of the two bullies, Mayer-Klepchick is fantastic. His anger, annoyance, frustration, and eventual heartbreak all authentically registered. Duckett plays the remarkably dumb Dylan and nails it. He gets some of the best one-liners and never fails to generate laughs. All of this is goodwill, and food for thought is squandered with the third chapter follows Orin. Without getting into spoilers—He ruins the movie.
This has nothing to do with Pudles’s portrayal of the character. The actor brings the appropriate amount of dimness and energy to a crappy role. But the character does not work. Based on his desires and actions throughout the film, I am not convinced that the bullies targeted him for being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.