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Movie Review: Asperger’s Are Us
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Asperger’s Are Us
Directed by Alex Lehmann
Starring Ethan Finlan, New Michael Ingemi, Noah Britton, Jack Hanke
Exec. Produced By: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass
Runtime: 82 minutes
Release date: November 15th, 2016 on iTunes

Asperger’s Are Us is a Duplass Brothers documentary following a 4-man comedy troupe getting ready for their last show, before they go their separate ways. That these young men have aspergers is less important than the relationships they have with each other, and their family and friends. Directed by Alex Lehmann (Blue Jay), you will get a glimpse into the lives of these friends, nay… brothers, who give it their last hurrah, before making new journeys without each other.

More, with a bit of spoilers below.

After many years together, Asperger’s Are Us is preparing their biggest show yet.

It will be their farewell performance.

The opening credit montage is really cool, like a patchwork quilt (see some of the images below). The guys wanted to show that people with aspergers are funny, and do have a sense of humor. They met at a summer camp for kids with aspergers. Noah was a counselor. They gravitated towards each other because of humor.

So who are these guys?

Ethan: “The best way to be funny is to always explain your jokes… right after you tell them. Ethan is the storyteller. He loves trains. Wait until you see how that is layered into the show! He seems the peacemaker of the group too.

Noah: “‘Aspies’ are hypersensitive.” He learned to dampen it by wearing sunglasses as listening to familiar songs, as their insides often feel irritated. Noah is a bit harsh on New Michael. He pointed out that ideas were bad a few times. I wasn’t the only one who noticed. They argue a lot, but are brothers. New Michael is his best friend. He says, “I spent 20 years in utter isolation. and make sure no one else has to do that.” Noah is very self-reflective about autism. He explains a lot about the relationships.

New Michael: He used to have anger issues. He changed what everyone has been calling him his whole life, his middle name Aaron, to New Michael. “It comes from the heart.” His dad is old Michael. His mother is his advocate. New Michael does not want his parents to come to their last show. They plan on hiding, their shining love, obvious.

Jack: He is going to study at Oxford for a year. His dad talks about his son with love and pride, and at how Jack used to have “clearing the classroom” meltdowns, and has matured. Jack still can’t receive the affection, and you can tell that’s hard for his father. He has a lot of guilt. Jack has a good analogy – It’s like feeding a skeleton. Comedy was “the bridge” that connected Jack to the rest of the world. At his high school graduation, he was voted “most outgoing,” because of humor.

I’m not going to talk about the last performance. I cannot give away the material because it deserves to be watched as fresh as possible. I will say that yes, it made me laugh.

This film was beautifully done, and did what it aimed to do. The trailer made me cry (that was its job), but the movie did not. I did not feel sorry for these men, but happy and really interested in their process and lives and relationships.

Some random thoughts:

– Awesome walking in slow motion superhero shot!

– Definition of good: “A train that Elton John is riding in The Civil War.”

– The theme music with the 3-note piano run is serious and haunting.

– New Michael’s dad is the person that made me cry. I could see his heart filled to bursting with love and pride for his son.

– The cinematography was lovely – the movement of time through transportation and seasons.

– I’m pretty sure one or two of my former students were undiagnosed “aspies.” Is it okay for non-“aspies” to use that term?

– I’m waiting for the Asperger’s Are Us reunion.

Asperger’s Are Us debuted on November 11, 2016 at The Village East in NYC. It remains in NY through the 17th, with 2 shows today at 4:20 and 7:00pm ET. It makes its Los Angeles debut November 18th. The film will also be available on iTunes on November 15th, 2016 and on select VOD platforms.

Official synopsis:

For the members of the comedy troupe “Asperger’s Are Us,” it’s easier to associate with a faceless audience than with their own families. No matter who the crowd, best friends Noah, New Michael, Jack and Ethan have one simple mantra: “We would much rather the audience appreciate us as comedians than people who have overcome adversity.” In this coming-of-age heartfelt documentary, this band of brothers finds themselves at a crossroad. With real life pulling them apart, they decide to plan one ambitious farewell show before they all go their separate ways. People with Asperger’s don’t deal well with uncertainty, and this is the most uncertain time in their lives.

Get to know these great guys!

NOAH BRITTON

Noah Britton is a psychology professor, performance artist, singer, guitarist, clothing designer, and autistic person. In addition to performing with Asperger’s Are Us, he fronts the bands The Best Thing Ever, Request Freebird, and ACLU Benefit. He has worked directly with people on the autism spectrum since 2005, as therapeutic mentor, camp counselor, researcher, and member of the federal government’s Interagency Autism Coordination Committee. He currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts.

NEW MICHAEL INGEMI

New Michael Ingemi was diagnosed with Asperger’s as a pre-teen. He is in his junior year at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell majoring in chemical engineering. Before Asperger’s Are Us, he wrote humorous websites such as “Judge a Book,” which reviewed books based entirely on their covers, and “The No Ball Games Foundation,” dedicated to furthering the rights of “round people.” These sites are long since offline.

JACK HANKE

Jack Hanke grew up in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 8. His previous comedy work has been posted on several websites, such as a personal site where he “interviewed Jeeves” by typing questions into AskJeeves.com. He will graduate from Gordon College this spring with a B.A. in English and political science, and is currently searching for work as a human trafficking researcher.

ETHAN FINLAN

Ethan Finlan is an aspiring transportation planner who in his spare time enjoys writing and performing sketches with his friends in the professional comedy troupe Asperger’s Are Us, having written and helped write numerous sketches. Ethan is currently becoming professionally certified in geographic information systems software and is looking at graduate schools for transportation planning. His favorite song is Edward Khil’s performance of “I am very glad, as I’m finally returning back home.”

Image Gallery

Video

Asperger’s Are Us – Official Trailer


From Duplass Brothers Productions and Director Alex Lehmann comes ASPERGER’S ARE US. In this coming of age documentary, four friends on the autism spectrum whom have bonded through humor and performed as the comedy troupe “Asperger’s Are Us” will prepare for one final, ambitious show before going their separate ways.

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