Home Free Image

Home Free

By Sabina Dana Plasse | October 30, 2023

Home Free could be called inappropriate and in bad taste, but for a college parody, it has a purpose with an important message. This coming-of-age stoner, toilet humor (literally) comedy is based on real-life scenarios that director Aaron Brown and writer Lenny Barszap experienced. They got together and decided to give their college, the University of Texas, the Animal House treatment.

It’s 1997, and the edge of technological progress was answering machines and palm pilots. Richard (John Karna) and his childhood best friend Owen (Ryan Cownie) refer to themselves as the Jasper Jews. Intelligent and highly likable, the two are a mischievous pair but aware of life and a bigger picture, only Owen more than Richard. On the last day of living in the dorms, Richard and Owen, along with Sydney (Annie Fox), Clark (Chau Long), and Jerry (Jashawn Lee), make their final plays of disruption.

Home Free then cuts to three months later. After surviving the dorms after their first year of college, this oddball but intelligent group of pothead college students get their first house in Austin, Texas. In classic Austin culture, the group’s off-beat sense of humor and tastes with a dialed-in pro-humanitarian gauge allow a homeless philosophy professor called The Professor (Joe Hart) to crash on their porch, bringing a new element to the college experience. The group sans Richard begins a type of pre-adult life, engaging in relationships and working toward professions. Owen is besieged by wacky but loving parents who don’t want Richard in his life, nor do they want him to derail from his business major.

“…Richard finds a room next door to the house where Owen meets his girlfriend…continues to be the disrupter…”

However, Richard finds a room next door to the house where Owen meets his girlfriend, Dawn (Annamarie Kasper). As Richard continues to be the disrupter, although a great character, his play for The Professor to crash on the porch in a rainstorm leads to an entire camp of homeless who come to enjoy the house. Parties and other elements that allow a certain amount of co-mingling grow beyond, including The Professor joining their bowling league. Then there’s, Jerry who has a mission for the university to use two-ply toilet paper over the current one-ply — his “burning b******e protest.” And, of course, there is a road trip. Along the way, Owen and his roommates learn about being unsheltered.

Lots of snarky and snappy dialogue abounds. Although funny in its portrayal, a fundamental element of truth is gleaned. Home Free is well-directed, especially given that so many people get into a number of ridiculous situations. But gags aside, this is a character-driven film where everyone’s role plays out to the end — as in, the very end of the credits. A good soundtrack and editing also contribute to the film’s appeal.

Yet, the most interesting about Home Free is its message on the unsheltered and its ability to deliver it in a way for so many to understand. It works like a charm, just like its lead characters’ unrelenting mischievousness as guys you can’t help but adore. The “just do good” message comes through and has its place and purpose, not to mention being very entertaining.

For screening information, visit the Home Free official website.

Home Free (2023)

Directed: Aaron Brown

Written: Lenny Barszap

Starring: Ryan Cownie, John Karna, Jashawn Lee, Annie Fox, Chau Long, Annamarie Kasper, Joe Hart, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Home Free Image

"…college comedy has a purpose with an important message."

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