In sharp contrast with the film’s title, the trailer for Kris Avedisian’s Donald Cried features a marked profusion of smiling.
Donald (played by Avedisian, who also penned the script) has a weird smile, and during the trailer it rarely leaves his face. Framed by an unkempt beard and Napoleon Dynamite glasses, it’s a grin somehow as endearing as it is off-putting, simultaneously exuding the familiar warmth of friendship and the emotional cramp of gaucherie.
The film follows New York bigshot Peter (Jesse Wakeman) to a funeral in his small Rhode Island hometown. When he loses his wallet, Peter is stranded in the universal experience of all prodigal sons as his past encroaches uncomfortably into his present, embodied here by childhood bestie Donald. This trailer casts Donald as the avatar of all the gawky immaturity most of us prefer to leave in the dusty high-school lockers of our memory; Peter’s arrested-adolescent ghost of personas past, still haunting a KISS poster-plastered attic.
Donald takes advantage Peter’s predicament to spirit him about town in a gold Chrysler Town & Country, awkwardly pressing him into a journey of regression, replete with back-home staples like suppressed-aggression football, an interrupted makeout session and smoking weed outdoors. Donald Cried, Avedisian’s feature debut, premiered at South by Southwest and won the Audience Award at AFI Fest in 2016, which, like the smile in this trailer, suggests a homecoming as enjoyable as it is cringe-inducing. MM
Donald Cried opens in theaters March 3, 2017, courtesy of The Orchard.