Sunday, July 14, 2024

“NUKED”

THE STORY – Gill Langer, a relationship podcaster, influencer and oversharer, is celebrating her 40th birthday alongside her husband, Jack Langer, an unassuming educator who wants nothing more than for them to conceive a child. Convening at a lavish estate, she throws a cannabis-infused dinner party with some of her closest friends, couples who are also at a crossroads in their relationships. As the night carries on, the high settles in and the insecurities of their respective relationships come to the surface; everyone gets a sudden phone alert that a nuclear missile is headed directly toward them.You’d be surprised what facing your impending death looks like and how weed, surprisingly, may not be your best ally in this scenario.

THE CAST – Justin Bartha, Anna Camp, Lucy Punch, George Young, Tawny Newsome, Ignacio Serricchio, Maulik Pancholy, Stephen Guarino, Natasha Leggero & Cole Stockel

THE TEAM – Deena Kashper (Director/Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 86 Minutes


In this day and age, it is exceptionally hard to fully connect with someone. Everyone is constantly online and oversharing their life, sometimes with minute-to-minute updates. But, even in the age of social media and digitally sharing one’s life with the world, it all seems to be surface-level – so much so that friends may be viewing each other’s posts all the time, but they might not entirely understand the other person. 

“Nuked” centers around Jack (Justin Bartha) and Gill (Anna Camp), a married couple who are throwing their combined 40th birthday party. They have rented a grand house in the country for a weekend and invited their close college friends and their respective partners. Gill is an influencer and host of a popular podcast focusing on marriage and relationships. Jack, a teacher, happily supports his wife’s new career endeavors but is concerned with the amount of time that she and the rest of their friends spend on their phones. So, by the time everyone arrives at the manor, Jack collects everyone’s devices in order to fully interact without distractions. Additionally, he has hired a chef (Natasha Leggero) who specializes in creating Cannabis-infused dinner parties. At first, the dinner party is going well and everyone is feeling a little more than buzzed. But, soon, the lone sober guest and new mom, Penelope (Lucy Punch), breaks and steals her phone, only to find out a massive alert has gone off stating that a nuclear missile is heading straight towards them.

With a runtime of 86 minutes, screenwriters Danny Kashper and Deena Kashper (the latter also serving as the director) are able to convey the comedy of seven high individuals – all with different temperaments and values – panicking at their impending doom. The first half of the screenplay is tight, both quickly establishing character relationships and dynamics and setting the plot in motion. So, when it’s time for the characters to deal with their “end of the world” dilemma, the audience knows enough about each character to enjoy the spectacle. Even though it is Jack and Gill’s birthday, all the characters are treated equally and work well in a true ensemble, so much so that the dialogue doesn’t feel expository. For example, the characters ask Mo (Tawny Newsome) for information on America’s nuclear resources because she is a weapons analyst. These moments not only forward the plot in an incredibly concise feature film but also provide great moments of laughter.

However, even with a tight screenplay, the potency of this dilemma quickly fizzles out. Some may say that the Kashpers may have written themselves into a corner, as the rest of the film takes place in one location (a basement with no Wi-Fi and no contact with the outside world) with these eight characters. But, Kashper deals with this dilemma by focusing on the respective couples in the basement where they are forced, by the pressure of potential imminent death and the end of the world, to honestly speak their mind and confront reality for better or worse. While this works well with some relationships, the screenwriters’ notion of treating every character equally hinders the film. Simply put, not all the characters are interesting enough due to the large ensemble in such a short film. This isn’t a critique of the performers, as they all work tremendously well when all the characters are present. Still, some are written significantly better than others and have more dramatic weight. Standouts include Bartha and Camp, who touch upon themes such as privacy in a digital world and male and female expectations if they were to become parents. Punch also provides excellent comedic moments as the sole character who will do anything to leave to be with her newborn son.

When facing the end, the truth inevitably comes out, whether one is sober, drunk, or high. The execution may be different, depending on one’s sobriety, admittedly, but the truth will, in fact, reveal itself. Overall, “Nuked” is a delightful film with some of the best comedic moments this year. The film has both enjoyable and cathartic moments that will get multiple laughs from its audience and allow them to reflect on how they live their lives and maybe influence them to speak more freely without the pressure of an impending nuclear missile or cannabis courage, of course.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - A strong ensemble that is able to provide laughs and catharsis. The screenplay is witty and laugh-out-loud hilarious.

THE BAD - The drama of the conflict at hand fizzles out pretty quickly. Some characters are more interesting than others.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

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Lauren LaMagna
Lauren LaMagnahttps://nextbestpicture.com
Assistant arts editor at Daily Collegian. Film & TV copy editor.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>A strong ensemble that is able to provide laughs and catharsis. The screenplay is witty and laugh-out-loud hilarious.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The drama of the conflict at hand fizzles out pretty quickly. Some characters are more interesting than others.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"NUKED"