Sunday 6/17, 1:30 @ Castro, PETU17C
In a nutshell (which is, after all, very nearly to say in a nut’s hell), the Petunia family is the Grand Central Station of emotional train wrecks. Charlie Petunia (Tobias Segal) is a blogger, supposedly celibate but in love with a man who lives in the apartment downstairs (who turns out to have a few twists to his own story). His brother Michael (Eddie Kay Thomas) is a newlywed with an emotionally distant wife, Vivian (Thora Birch), who is pregnant with a baby that may or may not be Michael’s: she’s been sneaking around with the third brother, Adrian, a sex addict who paints larger-than-life portraits of the yonis of his paramours. The parents, of course, are psychoanalysts, played by Christine Lahti and David Rasche, who can barely stand to speak directly to one another. Charlie finally hooks up with the guy downstairs (Michael Urie from Ugly Betty), who turns out to be Vivian’s cousin but also married to a woman (with a few screws loose herself, of course). It’s a rich tapestry of neurosis and family dysfunction that could easily devolve into audience disaffection and alienation, but the script is remarkably incisive without belittling the humanity deeply buried somewhere underneath this parade of misfits. It boasts numerous laugh-out-loud moments, including a few spots where the setup of the next joke was stepped on by the audience’s reaction to the previous punchline. Filmmaker Ash Christian brought us last year’s funny but flawed Mangus! but has an unqualified success with Petunia. Definitely a must-see!