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INDIEWATCH: 'C.O.G.' a middle-of-the-road glance at humorist David Sedaris

Melinda Lavine portrait1 / 2
Jonathan Groff stars in "C.O.G."2 / 2


Starring: Jonathan Groff, Dennis O'Hare, Corey Stoll

Writer/director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez

Time: 1:28

Rating: R for language, sexual content.

Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.

I'm a fan of humorist David Sedaris' work, so I was pumped to see the first film adapted from one of his essays. "C.O.G." follows a young man, who travels to Oregon to work as an apple picker "to try out the other side."

Jonathan Troff plays what I imagine Sedaris was like as a 20-year-old perfectly: Saucy, witty and a bit entitled. He wanders around, donning a Yale sweater, his ego bigger than himself.

This is one of the most intriguing, possibly personal views of Sedaris that I've seen, but the execution was a bit poor for my taste.

Writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez has a knack for showing the comedy in this film.

At one point, David takes a bite out of an apple from a conveyor belt and ralphs onto his co-worker.

"Oh (expletive), those apples have had pesticide," she screams.

I laughed out loud more than once, but the dramatic turn in "C.O.G." -- David's spiritual identity crises -- leaves much to be desired.

A lot of momentum is lost with the introduction of Jon (Denis O'Hare) a born-again Christian with a rough past, who facilitates David's turn to God. The pacing was extremely slow-moving here -- save for Jon's manic outbursts in between Bible verses. O'Hare brought the intensity, so I'll attribute the drop to the screenplay.

Cory Stoll plays a sleaze swimmingly as Curly, a closeted factory worker with big dreams. Troff played the comedy way better than the drama, but I'm game to see him in another role. The showdown confrontation, rampant with homophobia and ignorance, was a bit anti-climatic.

On the plus side, the cinematography -- large, stretching landscapes of apple orchards -- was spot on, but director Alvarez's music battled the imagery versus accompanied it.

Despite some of its technical faults, I was grateful for this film because it offered a cinematic insight into one of my favorite writers.

"C.O.G." reveals a difficult life lesson that I imagine helped create the humorist we know today. Though, in the end, I think Sedaris' stories are better told by the man himself.

Grade: D+

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.

Lavine is Accent Editor. Call her at (701) 780-1265, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1265 or send email to, read her blog at or follow her on Twitter at @AccentEditorGF.