Donald Cried traffics in the comedy of humiliation, and full disclosure: I can barely make it through an episode of the American The Office. So a movie like this, where grown men socially eviscerate themselves in very grounded scenarios... to me, it’s like eating handfuls of bullion cubes. But if you’re a fan of the genre, I imagine it’s a nice hot shot of schadenfreude espresso!
The concept is misleadingly straightforward: Peter (Jesse Wakeman) is a hotshot finance guy who returns to his podunk New England hometown to resolve his late grandmother’s affairs. But he’s lost his wallet before the film even begins, and no one wants to wire him any cash. Thus enfeebled, he’s forced to pal around with his old metalhead buddy Donald (writer/director Kris Avedisian), a big dumb nerd who represents everything Peter left behind.
Where Donald Cried really works is in situating the audience firmly in third-wheel status, gradually revealing a more nuanced and toxic relationship between the two leads. On the surface, Donald is the tactless goober and Peter is the hometown boy made good—but as the movie wears on, and as the masks come off, it becomes clear a relationship like theirs is never so simple.
Comedies like these often run into trouble translating a keen eye for human failings into a compelling narrative, and Donald Cried is not immune to this. Avedisian’s film seems happy to meander from suburban cul-de-sac to suburban cul-de-sac, occasionally stumbling on a scene of legitimate intensity or oblique emotional truth. Those peaks justify the valleys, if only just; so long as you know what you’re getting into, there’s a lot to unpack here. And if nothing else, Donald Cried will give you something to think about the next time you swing back through your podunk hometown.