Party movies always try to be about more than a party. Like one of the genre’s most famous entries, Dazed and Confused, they usually feature adolescents on the precipice of early adulthood. The Get Together, the latest from Texan filmmaker Will Bakke and his cowriter Michael B. Allen, and now available for streaming, centers on a quintessentially modern phenomenon: college graduates caught somewhere between adolescence and adulthood and looking for a distraction from their jobs, roommates, and changing relationships. The Get Together offers a glimpse of the joys and pains of becoming an adult, but it doesn’t dig deep enough.
Filmed during the summer of 2019 in Austin, it features an ensemble of lesser-known and first-time Texan actors rounded out by a couple of hometown heroes. Alejandro Rose-Garcia (better known by his stage name, Shakey Graves) plays an aimless, moody, wannabe musician. Ellar Coltrane (of Boyhood fame) makes a cameo, albeit covered in face tattoos that make the actor almost unrecognizable.
The movie follows three concurrent storylines of former high school and college friends in Austin, each touching on its own theme. We’re first introduced to August (Dallas-raised comedian Courtney Parchman), an underemployed recent grad who works as a rideshare driver to make rent, and McCall (Austin’s Luxy Banner), her more outgoing, popular roommate with a lucrative job. They’re friends but they’re on radically different life trajectories.
They moved to Austin together, but McCall has found a steady job and made new friends and wants to move to a nicer apartment downtown. August, however, is stuck. She’s struggled to find her place in Austin, and McCall is ready to move on.
The second and third storylines center on a triangular romantic comedy–style conflict. Damien (Jacob Artist of Glee fame) and his girlfriend Betsy (Johanna Braddy) have flown in from New York to visit Betsy’s family. Damien is hoping to propose, but Betsy, back in Austin for the first time since college, is eager to catch up with her old friends. A number of roadblocks get in the way of Damien’s proposal, most prominently Rose-Garcia’s character, Caleb, who is Betsy’s ex.
While Damien gets sidetracked with a silly subplot to find his misplaced engagement ring, Betsy reconnects with Caleb, which produces the film’s only vulnerable moments. The exes have a natural chemistry that almost makes you root for them to rekindle their relationship. Rose-Garcia does a fabulous job portraying a young romantic frustrated that his bandmates, and his ex, are choosing careers, marriage, and kids over pursuing their passions. “When you’re young, doing what you love, being irresponsible feels really cool, and everybody just cheers you on,” Caleb says to Betsy. “Then you hit this point where you’re like, ‘Is this still happening? Am I still doing this?’”
Those moments of natural-sounding introspection are too few and far between. There are some cheap laughs, and good music, but there’s also so much unexplored potential for the characters to really depict the passion, uncertainty, and restlessness that define young adulthood. The film takes some obvious cues from its predecessors (what is a coming-of-age movie without a pool scene?), and Bakke has cited Richard Linklater as one of his biggest influences. But The Get Together is no Dazed and Confused. Though the premise of each film is a party, The Get Together fails to deliver on heart.