Steve Balderson's “The Casserole Club” starts off in an entertaining fashion, as the characters seemed to be all about partying, eating and getting drunk. After Sugar proposes a harmless competition between her friends and neighbors on who makes the best casserole, this devoted hostess learns that she may have bit off more than she can chew....no pun intended.
The dinner parties lead to married couples swapping more than recipes, which may seem controversial for that time.....or maybe not; Isn’t the 60s all about hippies and their “free love” spirit? The loose behavior of these movie characters, however, is nothing compared to the troubles that each husband and wife are dealing with behind closed doors when the party is over and everyone has gone home.
“The Casserole Club” is funny while there are also some sympathetic moments for characters whose struggles with insecurity, trust, being unsatisfied and more eventually get the best of them. There is a defining moment for each couple where they change for the better or worse, except for one marriage that appears to be the example of what balance and happiness look like when the husband and wife truly love each other and accept each other for who they are.
The casting and use of the cast is one of the best aspects of “The Casserole Club” that I enjoyed because all of the characters are memorable. There is no one character that steals the show , making even the smallest of roles noticeable, so everyone shines in this movie.
I was particularly delighted with Susan Traylor as Sugar while Kevin Richardson’s brutal performance as Conrad surprised me. His character is self-destructive and crass, which makes him unlikeable....especially since Conrad treats his friends better than his wife, Sugar. I remember Traylor from “Stuck” and her performance in “The Casserole Club” reminded me why I like her. She turns her characters into people that the audience can relate to because they aren’t too wild, too outgoing or too shy either. Traylor is like the every-woman of actresses.
Garrett Swann’s character Sterling seemed to have more depth than that of his wife Kitty (played by Starina Johnson), but they both work well as a couple. Florene and Burt are the two that others should envy, since they seem to have the magic for maintaining a fulfilling marriage. The other couples seem to be in fully functional marriages that are great for show but still have missing pieces that may eventually destroy them.
Maybe the casseroles are symbolic for filling a void in the lives of these characters. Maybe the physical aspects of their dinner parties give them some type of temporary freedom and joy that they are not getting at home or in life. Or, maybe “The Casserole Club” is a vehicle that forces the audience to take a look at themselves, their views about marriage, friendship, children and personal struggles and realize that change happens and you can either adapt or not but one thing is for certain....you can’t eat, drink or screw your problems away. In fact, the problems may get worse. Either way, even if none of these apply.....the story works and will have you laughing, cheering, toasting (if you have some drinks while watching this movie) and wanting to smack someone, or two.
“The Casserole Club” is a must-see movie. It is entertaining, fun and sexy with neighbors that are unlike any that you may have seen in a very long time.
Watch the Trailer:
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