By Phil Hall | January 20, 2007

“The Grass Grows Green” takes place in a U.S. Marines Recruiting Station in Texas. It is a fairly quiet place – actually, it’s too quiet. But that shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering the Marines death toll in Iraq. In fact, the war hits home when a young man from the neighborhood who recently joined the Marines is killed in Iraqi combat.

The news of this death brings very different reaction from the two sergeants who operate the Recruiting Station. The deadly serious Sgt. Lobos is crushed by the news and begins to see the dead young Marine watching him. The slovenly Sgt. Worthy reacts in this manner: “Hey, man, that’s some f****d up s**t. At least he died a U.S. Marine.” Sgt. Worthy has a talent for making tactless statements – at one point he refers to college as a place “for f**s and zeroes.”

This short bills itself as the story of a “Marine’s complicated relationship with life and death – from behind the recruiting-office desk.” The Marine in question is Sgt. Lobos (Sgt. Worthy is more of a bad comedy relief here). Yet there’s nothing very complicated about this character: he has a sexy wife and a cute daughter, he lives off-base and stateside (none of those nasty Sunni IUDs blowing him up on the way to work), and has enough time in his schedule to enjoy a daily seven mile run.

As played by Santiago Vasquez, Sgt. Lobos is just a big, beefy, blank void of a man. It might be the actor isn’t up to the role – his line readings are strangely mechanical and he rarely changes his dull expression. Or perhaps Jesus “Chin” Beltran’s screenplay never properly plumbs the emotional pain of a Marine recruiter who knows he’s sending young people to certain death in Iraq.

Either way, “The Grass Grows Green” never hits its stride.

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