Lez Bomb is a classic movie game of kick the can. Cinematically it’s an extremely difficult game to play because you’re stringing out a big reveal for as long as possible. In this case, the strong cast of characters work with the plot points and crush the dialogue so you’re willing to engage. So while its central bomb feels more like a dud mortar, watching the game of kick the can play out is an absolute joyride!
Writer/director/star Jenna Laurenzo has penned a story in which Lauren (Laurenzo) plans to come out to her family during Thanksgiving by bringing her girlfriend, Hailey (Caitlin Mehner), home for the holiday. Her efforts are thwarted by her roommate Austin’s (Brandon Micheal Hall) arrival. This twist is hilariously smart in itself as Austin happens to be black, and the rest of her family automatically believes that this is the big news.
As Lauren tries to steer her family in the right direction, more family members continue to show up and block her goal for various reasons. Lauren’s on screen family is stacked with powerhouse talent who bring life to their characters as only they can. Kevin Pollak is George, Lauren’s protective father. He makes George a quirky, lovable, and hilarious dad who tows the line between realizing his daughter is a grown woman but still his little girl, which makes for hysterical exchanges between him and Austin. Lauren’s mom Rose (Deirdre O’Connell) is dealing with the recent death of her father, inheriting the family motel, and her misguided attempts to connect with her daughter in her own way. O’Connell’s ability to jump from thought to thought in her dialogue with minimal exterior expression makes Rose that member in your family...you know the one! Bruce Dern and Cloris Leachman make it look easy as Grandpa and Josephine respectively.
Credit has to be given to Laurenzo for her writing. It’s rare to find dialogue that doesn’t feel scripted, but captures the essence of the natural rhythm of family gatherings. The casting bolsters her words to create an on screen family that has a genuine sense of history in each line delivered. Laurenzo’s camera also catches both the mundane moments and verbal disses with a sprinkle of love and hate that every family can relate to.
The issue with Lez Bomb is that the coming out portion of the film, the bomb, isn’t really a bombshell news item to Lauren’s family, nor is it set up that way. You get the vibe that her news won’t be that big of a deal along the way because her family seems pretty liberal. There’s never a sense of real stakes in what her confession may cost her. Even if relayed through Lauren’s words. Instead, Lauren constantly asks Hailey and Austin, who already know, to give her more time to tell her folks when it’s a good moment. Not every coming out film has to be super dramatic, but the comedy is so good here that a nice dramatic turn or a feeling of risk would have made this movie more memorable. In an honest moment with Hailey, we get a brief glimpse of Lauren’s internal struggle and self worth, but it’s gone before it’s truly explored.
Also, the chemistry between Mehner and Laurenzo lacks authenticity. There’s a real sense of love and history between Lauren and Austin in a playful moment in the beginning of the film. One that’s powerful enough to set up a love triangle in subtext. This missing link sets Hailey up to look like a one note, complaining girlfriend, rather than the true love of Lauren’s life that she gives lip service to being.
Lez Bomb is certainly a feel-good, family holiday movie that’s filled with laugh out loud jokes. It’s quick witted dialogue separates it from similar indie fair. Director Jenna Laurenzo said she “wrote Lez Bomb because it was the movie I wanted to see but couldn’t find.” Perhaps it will inspire others to do the same. It’s certainly the perfect arthouse film to see with a group in theaters.