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Box Elder

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Four college buddies put the “bro” in bromance in this low-key, goofy comedy that plays like a cross between Richard Linklater’s Slacker and TV’s Seinfeld: plot-wise, nothing much happens, but the eccentric people grow on you nevertheless. It benefits from better acting than what’s in many debut indie features and from a sweet-and-sour tang arising from the characters’ rueful awareness of time passing.

On a Midwest college campus (the movie was shot in Columbia, Missouri), stoic theater major Becker (movie-star handsome Renkoski) is alternately boosted and plagued by motormouth pal Alex (Rennie), lovelorn and self-destructive roomie Scott (Sklar), and the cool but ultimately duplicitous Fletcher (Haas). Adding spice is Scott’s girlfriend Laura (the remarkably assured Abdullah), a free spirit who knows when to move on.

The dialogue has a hit-or-miss improvisational feel, but the larky visuals are on target, notably in an iconoclastic Halloween sequence and a deadlock when Alex and Scott push Becker’s patience too far. Their apartment is recognizably a guys’ crash pad, with layers of objects accreting as on archaeological sites, food continuously disappearing (eating is a preoccupation), and moochers sticking around like gum under a table. The buoyant track includes music by ’90s indie-rock innovators Pavement.

Written by Andrea Gronvall

Cast and crew

  • Director:Todd Sklar
  • Cast:
    • Todd Sklar
    • Nick Renkoski
    • Alex Rennie
    • Chad Haas
    • Hina Abdullah
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