The Country Club
Director: Fiona Robert
Writers: Fiona and Sophie Robert
Time: 89 minutes
Review by Mike Szymanski
You’ve driven past those snooty country clubs with those grand estates, high bushes, elite dress codes, impenetrable cliques and membership fees that mere mortals cannot afford. Maybe you’ve even eaten at the overpriced, over-rated restaurants at the club (there’s even a joke about how bad they are in the movie.) Inevitably, it’s obvious the club spends more time and money on the upkeep of the grounds than they do on the menu.
Writers/actresses/sisters Fiona and Sophie Robert captured the mood of such an uppity locale in the farcical comedy “The Country Club.” The movie is both endearing and irritating and will elicit laugh-out-loud jokes as well as groan-worthy moments. It’s the best example I’ve ever seen of an American teen comedy mixed with the absurd characters of a French farce. In other words, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
It’s the first film outing for the sister duo who are quite adept at not only writing and starring in their own movie, but directing a stellar cast, and creating a refreshingly original story. No doubt this is a team to keep an eye on in the future of filmmaking, and we will see a lot of them.
You know what you are in for when you watch the opening credits and see Steve Higgins credited for “Fart Noises.” Yes, there are a bunch of pooping jokes, adolescent make-out scenes and confused sexual identities, but that’s to be expected.
So, let me provide some context to the cast before we even talk about the plot of the film.
John Higgins plays the most obnoxious character in the cast, Roger Kowalski, a mama’s boy who dresses in pink and always wears a beret. You may recognize John as one of the three relatively new cast members on Saturday Night Live with Ben Marshall and Martin Herlihy known as a comedy trio called Please Don’t Destroy. Their skits on SNL are legendary and hysterical, and they were hired to write on the show in 2021 and now appear regularly on the show.
Check out a classic Please Don’t Destroy clip from SNL with Jenny Ortega (Wednesday). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SK7GHDgmmA
John’s father is Steve Higgins, a writer and producer on SNL since 1995. He is credited in Country Club with fart noises because of his legendary sound effects in this clip with Alec Baldwin. You can truly see the Higgins family talent: https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/creating-saturday-night-live-steve-higgins-makes-sound-effects-for-gym-class/3477503
Joking aside, it was brilliant for the Robert sisters to pull John Higgins out of the trio to shine on his own in this wacky comedy. The trio of Please Don’t Destroy will be starring together in a Judd Apatow movie coming up later this year.
The Country Club centers on two sisters (played by the real sisters) who mistakenly join a junior golf tournament at a prestigious country club. The invites go out to wealthy members of the community and Elsa Cartwright (played by Sophie Robert) is not from the renown “Cartwrights of Connecticut” who the invitation is meant for, but is a working girl with a sister named Tina (Fiona Robert, also the director).
The sisters hope to win the prize money from the golf tournament, but they get distracted when John Higgins’ pushy character Roger declares his love for Elsa and wants her to be his girlfriend. Roger’s character is always pretty in pink, and makes plenty of inside jokes that seem to point out that he’s not all-in on their boy-girl relationship.
“Have you seen him in all pink? Clearly, he is into fashion,” one sister says to the other when asking Roger to model for her.
Meanwhile, Tina gets mixed up in a love triangle between another overbearingly obnoxious preppy from the club, Marshall (played by the super-cute David Levi from “The Naked Brothers Band”) and a kind and sweet caddy Lumer (pronounced perhaps on purpose as Lumière, the ever-loyal candlestick servant from “Beauty and the Beast”) who is played by an equally cute Sean Ormond.
Roger throws more than one big baby tantrum, and especially when his mother appears. Mom, a socialite named Fanny Kowalski, is played by Elaine Hendrix who is known for the Lindsay Lohan-starring remake of The Parent Trap as well as appearing in Dynasty.
The cast also includes James Urbaniak (from “The Fabelmans” and “American Splendor”) and Akono Dixon (from “Dolemite is My Name.”)
The amazingly diverse score with all sorts of musical treats is compiled by Amit May Cohen, and is worth mentioning as a standout. There is also a very funny “Love is Like a Game of Golf” song that is so appropriate for this unpredictable and goofy story.
Already the film landed kudos with the movie, winning Best Comedy at the Manhattan Film Festival, Fiona winning Best Actress at the New York City Independent Film Festival and the Marlyn Mason New Voices Award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.
“The Country Club” will have a limited theatrical release in early June and be released on streaming platforms on June 23, 2023.