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College-bred Loafers

    It's a much more graceful movie than the title suggests, though. This fine, funny comedy by the first-time director Baumbach has distance as well as impudence. Grover (Josh Hamilton), a budding writer, has just lost his girlfriend, Jane (Olivia D'Abo), to an overseas program in Prague, despite his warnings that the place is touristed-out ("It's an overrated country!"). In a funk, Grover stays put with his college-grad friends, and his life becomes a somewhat less than magic whirl of Trivial Pursuit games and beer-drinking.

    Jughead figure Otis (Carlos Jacott), a soft, calf-faced goof in pajamas, avoids an inevitable move to grad school in Milwaukee through a McJob at a video store run by a frustrated filmmaker (there's a shelf at the store captioned "Interesting Failures"). An increasingly testy Miami (Party Girl's Parker Posey, pretty but miscast) schemes to break up with her boyfriend, another member of Grover's circle of jerks.

    Baumbach captures not only the silly, hopeless machismo of the boys in their self-imposed stasis but also the finer side of the story. Kicking and Screaming is a sharp-witted film, but it's sensitive. In the ending, during which Chet explains himself, Kicking and Screaming refuses to make an eternal student look like a failure. It refuses, in short, to make "Get a life" the moral of the story. Of all of the likable things about this movie, maybe I liked the most the way it honored all of the fine minds who through circumstances end up working minimum-wage jobs.

    Kicking and Screaming (R; min 98), directed and written by Noah Baumbach, photographed by Steven Bernstein and starring Eric Stoltz and Parker Posey.

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From the Nov. 9-Nov. 15, 1995 issue of Metro

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