Time Travel, Australian Outlaws, and a Purple Recliner Populate These Sundance Films With June Birthdays

Young woman with long brown hair, wearing beige stocking cap, purple print cardigan over darker beige turtleneck sweater and holding what appears to be a disposable cup with a lid, standing in front of a building. She has a comically pouty expression.

Jenny Slate (also known as the voice of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On) plays Donna in “Obvious Child.” (Photo by Chris Teague)

By Vanessa Zimmer

If there’s a month dedicated to meeting new people, it would have to be June, don’t you agree? Summer begins, adventures await. It’s only natural to look forward to meeting new friends, maybe even new romantic partners.

When we started looking for films with Sundance connections that were introduced to the wider world in June, we noticed a good number focused on forming friendships and other relationships.

Like Miranda July’s vision of a man and a woman from two very different worlds considering coupledom. Or a trio forced to delve more deeply into their interactions by virtue of being crammed in a single vehicle on a road trip. Or a young man being introduced to his crime-spangled extended family. Or reporters tracking down a guy who insists he can time-travel. Or a young woman colliding head-on with the reality of adulthood.

Check out these five Festival films that are all about people and those they like or love or at least meet on the roadway of life.

Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) — The tagline for this directorial feature debut by performance artist Miranda July is: “The person you’ve been waiting to find is waiting to be found.” July plays Christine, an eccentric artist who drives a cab for residents of a retirement home, who meets Richard (John Hawkes), a shoe salesman and single father of two boys. Could these two people from two different worlds be waiting for each other? July (more recently the narrator of the Oscar-nominated 2022 Sundance Film Festival documentary Fire of Love) also wrote the screenplay. Me and You and Everyone We Know — which also received Sundance Institute support including Directors and Screenwriters Labs — won the Festival’s Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision in the dramatic category. Check viewing options here.

The Puffy Chair (2006) — The Duplass brothers collaborate — co-writing, directing (Jay), and acting (Mark) — in this enlightening road-trip comedy. Josh (Mark Duplass) has found the ultimate gift for his father’s birthday. It’s a purple puffy chair, just like the one he had when Josh and younger brother, Rhett (Rhett Wilkins), were kids. It’s on eBay, so pickup and delivery calls for a long journey via highway. Josh’s girlfriend (Katie Aselton) and Rhett tag along. “Soon the road trip turns into a comedic allegory of a new American condition — the modern phenomena of people over 30 who did not get past being 15, stuck in spirals of inane kiddy talk and video games,” Mike Plante writes in the Festival Program Guide. Check viewing options here.

Animal Kingdom (2010) — Buckle up for writer-director David Michôd’s gritty Australian crime drama, which won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Dramatic category at the 2010 Festival. After his mom dies from an overdose, young J Cody (James Frecheville) moves in with his grandmother (Jacki Weaver) and her lawless family. Will he join their violent ways, or will he go straight? Guy Pearce plays a good cop who tries to coach J into the latter. Weaver was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as the matriarch in this tense story. Check viewing options here.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2010) — “WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid when we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.” This ad in the newspaper personals attracts the attention of a magazine, which sends out three staffers to pursue the story. Mark Duplass (June must be a productive month for him!) plays the guy who placed the ad. Aubrey Plaza plays one of the magazine staffers. “Clever dialogue and outlandish antics, peppered with misfit characters — each one charming yet flawed — are wrapped in a love story tingling with the tantalizing possibility of time travel,” John Cooper writes in the Festival Program Guide. Colin Trevorrow directs a screenplay by Derek Connolly. The film won the Festival’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Check viewing options here

Obvious Child (2014) — A no-holds-barred comedian in Brooklyn, Donna (Jenny Slate) gets dumped by her cheating boyfriend, meets a nice young man named Max (Jake Lacy), and they drunkenly end up in bed. She winds up pregnant but doesn’t want to tell Max. “It’s the unlikely, yet winning, combination of scatological humor, raw human honesty, and sweet romance that makes Obvious Child so much fun and so satisfying to watch,” writes Caroline Libresco in the Festival Program Guide. Director Gillian Robespierre’s feature debut is an adaptation of her short film of the same name. Check viewing options here.

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