Comic actor, TV director and “Robot Chicken” co-creator Seth Green’s feature writing and directing debut ventures into Zach Braff “sensitive” territory, and never quite comes off.
“Changeland” is a mashup of Thai travelogue, morose man on a soul-searching quest and male wish fulfillment fantasy that’s built around the idea that the world wants to experience Seth Green on mute. Kind of a mixed bag, in that regard.
He stars as Brandon, a fellow who meets his “best friend” in the airport in Dubai, a meeting for a connecting flight that will take them to the stunningly-scenic, seriously-touristy Phuket, Thailand.
Brandon is the furthest thing from “excited” about this trip. His well-traveled pal Dan (Brecklin Meyer, veteran light comedy and TV sitcom lead) is going to have to be enthusiastic for the both of them.
Brandon’s figured out his wife is cheating, and decided that didn’t merit the “surprise” anniversary trip he put together for her or “them.” “Dan” it is.
The first jokes are at the resort, where the desk clerk (Kenneth Won) mistakes “them” for a couple. The fact that everybody involved recognizes that as a weary place to look for laughs doesn’t stop the script from repeating this comatose gag with tour guides along the way.
That sets the tone. This isn’t going to be that funny. And for all the gravity weighing on it, will it find something fresh to say about this sort of sad situation?
This trip, Dan decides, is about “one question.”
“You wanna fight for (the marriage) or not? You answer that and everything follows.”
Brandon mopes and Dan copes, the marriage is discussed and the guys’ “You’ve been a (bad) friend” issues surface.
Nothing novel or new about any of that. But at least they’re doing it on islets, in grottoes, mangrove forests and on boat rides in one of the most exotic places on Earth, nicely-showcased here in a way that suggests the whole project was a “paid working vacation” gig for Green and some pals.
Among those pals, is Macaulay Culkin, who plays a dive boat operator and general “You guys should come with me to the club” party goofball who might have been the life of the party, had this ever added up to a “party.”
It’s just Brandon dodging calls from his faithless wife, Dan trying to snap him out of his funk, with cute tour boat guides (Brenda Song and Clare Grant) showing up, right on queue, the “male wish fulfillment fantasy” side of things.
The scenery and sadness are what have value here, and noting the fact that there are still fun parts for Culkin to play. Green and Meyer, both in their mid-40s when this was filmed, feel like peas in a not-as-interesting-as-they-were-in-their-20s pod.
Which might be why no one involved labeled this what it is, a “mid-life crisis” comedy without the laughs or any meaningful life lessons attached.
Rating: R for language and brief drug use.
Cast: Seth Green, Brecklin Meyer, Brenda Song, Clare Grant, Rose Williams, Kenneth Won, Kedar Williams-Stirling and Macaulay Culkin.
Credits: Scripted and directed by Seth Green. A Hulu release.
Running time: 1:26