WHEN we meet Alice (Juno Temple) and John (Michael Angarano), they’re playing out some unconvincing pantomime of the suburban dream. They’re under-funded, over-extended and struggling to find some semblance of the future they thought would be waiting for them.
If they weren’t so perfectly imperfectly perfect for each other, it would be hard to see the bright side of their situation: rich in young love and laughs, poor in just about everything else. But in that light, their fumbling attempts to find a place in the world — and more importantly find it together — can’t help but seem quietly heroic.
The appearance of the titular brass teapot throws Alice and John into uncharted regions, both at large and within the intimate colony of their marriage.
The boon of the enchanted teapot comes with a tax, one that gets steeper the longer they’re exposed to it. The results are variously charming, sexy, hilarious, dark, violent, silly, bloody, heartbreaking and triumphant.
As the once sweet couple careens into this increasingly weird territory, their coming-of-age story crashes — quite literally — into that kind of Norman Rockwell-affected 80s fantasy we fell for in GREMLINS and THE GOONIES — though one with an admittedly darker trajectory.
THE BRASS TEAPOT’s rendering of this world, delivered with flashes of emotional intelligence and social satire — and anchored by a hooky musical score — also touches oddly at the edges of the John Hughes microverse.
There’s an imperfect magic to director Ramaa Mosley’s feature debut. It’s silly. It strains our suspension of disbelief. Some will say it goes too far, some not far enough. But for all the slapstick hijinks and plot twists — the crotch-grabbing bully and the gun-toting Hasids — at its heart THE BRASS TEAPOT is a surprisingly nuanced love story.