Movie ‘C.O.G.’ sad and exhilarating

  • (Screen Media Films)

Although many had begged, bestselling writer David Sedaris (“Naked,” “Me Talk Pretty One Day”) had never signed over the film rights of any of his humorous essays, fearful Hollywood would plaster over everything that made them personal and funny.

But Miami native Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who had previously directed only one movie (“Easier with Practice”), won Sedaris’ trust by vowing not to rely on voiceover narration or one-liners or cheap gags.

The result, C.O.G., an adaptation of one of the stories collected in “Naked,” proves Sedaris’ instincts were right.


Jonathan Groff (Glee) plays David, a Yale grad and Connecticut intellectual who, on the whim of a friend, decides to chuck all his modern-day clutter — cellphones, credit cards, laptop — and move to Oregon to work as an apple picker.

“I wanna change the pace a little bit, get my hands dirty,” David says on the comical cross-country bus ride that opens the film.

But his first day on the job, working alongside Mexican immigrants who don’t speak English and lorded over by a watchful boss (Dean Stockwell) who has zero tolerance for slack, David realizes he may have made a mistake.

“I thought this would be easier,” he says, unable to make a connection with any of the other workers on the sprawling farm. Instead, he entertains himself with his own musings on rural life (“Do cows look forward to anything? They must be so bored.”)

One day, while running an errand in town, David encounters a sidewalk preacher (“American Horror Story’s” Denis O’Hare) handing out pamphlets titled C.O.G. “Capable of genocide?” guesses the smart-ass David, who is an atheist.

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