‘Cora Bora’ Review: Movie Misses the Mark

I can’t tell if Cora Bora is satirical, ironic, or sincere. That’s a problem. You know the type of humor: it’s funny in Portland or LA, but somehow loses its charm anywhere else. If you think that embodying and ever-so-slightly playing up the most annoying parts of Gen-Zers is funny, I think that this movie is for you, but I also think that you’re more obnoxious than you are anything else. 

Cora Bora’s core-a

The film follows the titular Cora (Megan Stalter), a struggling LA-based musician who is in an open relationship with her long-term girlfriend Justine (Jojo T. Gibbs), a student in Portland. Finding herself jealous of Justine’s new partner, Riley (Ayden Mayeri), Cora flies to Portland to tease apart the duosometimes, that teasing apart is literal, as Cora spends most of the film endlessly and mercilessly harping on Riley. 

As she gets to, attends, and then runs away from the party, Cora ruins many a situation. In this short 90-minute runtime, she manages to get a cell phone chucked at her head and ruin a polycule’s recruitment night. Justine was, in fact, nearing the end of the road with Cora – affirming Cora’s worries – and felt that Cora was overbearing, insecure, and just plain too much; each of these complaints proved true and obvious to viewers immediately.

It may feel that I’m dragging Cora pretty extensively here. That’s because I am. Easily, the most memorable part of the film is that Cora is just downright annoying. Every couple of minutes or so, my attention lapsed, and I thought to myselfOK, here is where the film will redeem her.” Every single time, it didn’t. When the movie shifts scenes, Cora’s abhorrent personality stays. Even at the end, when the film tries to redeem her, she feels like her same annoying self. It’s insufferable. 

Annoyance won’t matter, for some

For many viewers, Cora’s personality won’t be a problem. It feels right off TikTok, so it may fit perfectly for the movie viewers that love that type of person, the type of people who think it’s funny to be cruel, incompetent, and wildly unaware of their own flaws – oh, of course, along with being crude and the center of their world. The film tries to make Cora endearing and really sells it during the emotional climax, where she actually helps out the people in her life. These attempts were too few and too late, for me. Again, for other eyes – and for people who didn’t hate Cora to their core – this will be less of a problem or won’t be a problem at all.

Similarly, I thought that Cora’s music was nearing unlistenability. Her guitar playing sounded juvenile, and her lyrics were more nihilistic than a college student’s first read of Nietzsche. Such bops included the anthemic “Dreams Are Stupid,” in which the dreaming musician rants about how the audience’s dreams areas the title suggestsstupid. 

None of this is to say that Stalter’s performance is scorn-worthy. In fact, she clearly shows that this type of character is her bread and butter. Is it a type of bread and butter I want in my films? No. But personal tastes vary.

Everything else in Cora Bora

Outside of Stalter’s performance as the terrible Cora, there’s not much that stands out. Manny Jacinto plays Tom, the overly-kind music manager who repeatedly helps Cora, much to his own dismay, with a kindness and sincerity that is often lacking in the comedy genre. Joining The Good Place star is Chelsea Peretti, the only actor I’ve found who is able to walk the line between annoying and funny, that Cora is desperately trying to do.

Peretti plays a dog owner whose dog is accidentally stolen by Cora and only appears in one scene. Her major blowup on the partygoers at Justine’s graduation celebration is so over the top that it has to be funny. Peretti’s performance actually shows what’s what with Cora: she’s too believable. If you’re going to make a character annoying, it has to be a play on what you get in everyday life; it can’t just mimic it. The dog owner does that, and Cora does not.

Cora’s dog, the genderfluid icon Taco, is part of the only deeply funny gag in the film. Cora wholeheartedly believes Taco is a girl, but Riley and Justine have found out and verified that he’s, in fact, a boy. The exchanges between the two sides about the dog’s gender are astounding. Cora talks about her (the dog), which prompts weird looks and a correction from Riley. The infighting throughout the rest of the movie results in side-aching laughter. 

What to make of it

Despite its failed go at redemption and emotional depth in the final 10 minutes, Cora Bora is a weak attempt at an already messy and contrived idea. Its performances aren’t terrible – with a couple of highlights – but it isn’t even approaching special. For those who won’t be put off by the humor, the film is, at best, a fun time that is brought down by a predictable and stale script. 

I might be the old man shaking my fist at the kids to get off my lawn, but when a film’s deepest emotional moments still feel contrived and unearned, there’s something to be said for its failures.  Regardless of any possible saving graces – Peretti, Jacinto, or our boy/girl Taco – the film misses basically every mark set for it, and with that, Cora Bora is the next in the line of movies destined for the defunct $3 DVD bin at Walmart. 

Cora Bora is playing in limited theaters nationwide.

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