Being 17 is never a barrel of laughs (at least, if my experience is a sample), but Candy Cahill’s life is absurd.
Cast your mind back to Queens in the ’80s. Now imagine that New York’s largest mental hospital, Creedmoor, is close by, your mother is bossy when she’s not busy being self-absorbed, your dad ineffectual (and he dies early on), your big brother a drug addict and your little brother a closeted gay. And you’re just trying to get through high school.
When Alicia Slimmer’s debut film “Creedmoria” gives poor Candy (Stef Dawson of “Hunger Games” fame) just that setup to deal with, she takes the proverbial bull by the horns and rides that baby expertly in one of the most engaging teen comedies in a while.
Broadway veteran Rachel de Benedet is wonderfully annoying as mom Angela, one of those “moms from hell” who tells everybody what to do when she’s not busy with neighbor Harvey, played by Arthur Gerunda.
Candy mostly hangs out with little brother Sean (Ryan A. Weldon) – the most normal member of the family, who has to dodge the bullies in their parochial school in addition to all the family nuttiness.
Candy gets a job at the local drive-through burger joint and attracts the attention of cute Billy Fenton (Steve Cavanaugh), a leather-jacketed lout who smokes too much and turns out to be even more domineering than Angela. And now she not only has to deal with family lunacy and Billy but also bad behavior from the (jealous) girls at school and work.
Oh, and let’s not forget that Creedmoor contributes a whole crew of mental patients from the real-life local psychiatric facility, who wander through like zombie walk-ons from “The Walking Dead.”
When the mean girls, Candy’s increasingly annoying boss (identified only as “Dickhead Manager” in the cast list and portrayed by P.J. Brown) and that caveman boyfriend always blowing smoke in her face get to be too much (“How long do you have to wait to break up with a guy who just tattooed your name on his arm?” she asks), Candy decides it’s time to save herself.
It’s a simple premise, amusingly written and well acted all around. No superheroes here, just a teen who wants to escape the craziness in her life.
I look forward to Slimmer’s next film.