‘C.O.G.,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


Coming-of-age stories tend to be about innocents who have the veil pulled from their eyes. Which sort of describes “C.O.G.” – except for the innocent part.

In fact, David (Jonathan Groff) is old enough to have finished grad school. Still, he’s lived a privileged life, relatively speaking, and longs for experience – which is why he winds up on an apple farm in rural Oregon. He is, as the saying goes, ripe for the picking.

And that’s the story of “C.O.G.,” Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s film, based on a story by David Sedaris. If this is a coming-of-age film, it’s also a fish-out-of-water tale: the above-it-all intellectual plunged into the reality of the workaday world.

Nothing goes quite the way David imagines it will, beginning with his actual trip from Conecticut to Oregon. He was supposed to travel with his friend Jennifer; they’ve decided that, having endured 18-plus years of education, they want to get their hands dirty and see how the “real” people live. Then Jennifer finds a boyfriend whose car is too small to accommodate David, who winds up taking a bus cross-country.

David has some fanciful “Grapes of Wrath”-like notion of the nobility of the working man. Instead, he winds up working for a bemused orchard owner named Hobbs (Dean Stockwell), who regards his workers as trash and can’t quite figure out what a snooty nob like David – who has decided to call himself Samuel, just for the affectation of it – is doing picking apples with a crew of undocumented Mexicans.

David discovers that, in fact, these working people have resentments and foibles (including stealing his money), that they’re suspicious about everything from his Yale sweater to the fact that he reads books during his break.

This review continues on my website.

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