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Noah Baumbach Talks ‘Kicking And Screaming’ On The Eve Of BAMcinemaFest 17th Anniversary Screening

The Playlist By The Playlist | The Playlist June 29, 2012 at 4:41PM

That internet movie legend is false: filmmaker Noah Baumbach’s debut feature, “Kicking And Screaming,” was never almost accepted to the Cannes Film Festival and then rejected because the director refused to cut fifteen minutes from the film as requested.
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Kicking & Screaming Cast

A typical up and down indie financing experience, “Kicking And Screaming” fell apart several times before it got made, but when one actor dropped out, the addition of indie '90s mainstay actor Eric Stoltz in an 11th hour casting bid saved the film.

“There were so many different cast things too because it's like the movie would come together with one group of people and then fall apart,” Baumbach said. After flirting with several companies Trimark had finally agreed to finance it, but then tried pull out. “So I basically just said what if Eric Stoltz [who had already read and liked the script] was in it? And they said ‘Well, we could use his name in the marketing. You know you can keep your million dollars.’ We kind of just wrote that character last minute.”

While borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered ‘90s has already hit, the filmmaker doesn’t look back at the decade as anything other than something deeply personal. “I graduated in '91 so the '90s for me were very much the first years out of school, so I can't really look at that decade as independent of my own experience of my 20s really,” he said. “I was just writing comedic versions of what my friends and I talked about and the use of pop culture references and trivia. Those were things that seemed at least somewhat novel at the time. And then post-Tarantino and they kind of, they became almost required for a while.”

Though the film has now become an indie-film touchstone, Baumbach says ultimately the story is a rather familiar one, albeit one connected to his individual affinities. “I wanted to make my version of ‘Diner’ and yet [its director Barry Levinson] was looking back at Fellini's ‘I Vitteloni,' ” he said. “There's always some generational-guys-hanging-out movie that is made every few years I think, and some of them are great. I've always felt some kind of connection to people who are kind of over-smart. People who over-think things to the point of some sort of paralysis, and I think that certainly can be me on any given day.”

And while the film is now considered a '90s contemporary classic, and has been minted by the Criterion Collection, the legacy of “Kicking And Screaming” received a potential blow in 2005 when a Will Ferrell soccer comedy borrowed the same title. And while it was something the filmmaker attempted to fight at the time (or at least see what his options were), ultimately Ferrell’s film won the battle, but Baumbach's film won the war. “Will Ferrell’s made a lot of brilliant movies,” Baumbach said. “But I’m lucky that none of those were called ‘Kicking And Screaming.' ”

“Kicking & Screaming” screens at BAMCinemafest Saturday, June 30 at 7pm. Don’t forget it also features a Q&A with Noah Baumbach, Josh Hamilton, Chris Eigeman, Carlos Jacott, and co-writer Oliver Berkman, moderated by Chuck Klosterman.

This article is related to: Noah Baumbach, BAMcinemaFest


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