Review: ‘Fort Tilden,’ a Comic Odyssey to the Beach


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Clare McNulty, left, and Bridey Elliott as New Yorkers embarking on a picaresque bike ride in “Fort Tilden.”

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Brian Lannin/Orion Releasing

Take the potty-mouthed, woman-centric millennial sensibility of HBO’s “Girls,” turn down the drama and turn up the comic amorality, and you have “Fort Tilden,” the highly amusing debut feature from Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers. Rarely has a movie so humorously illustrated the meaning of “frenemy.”

When Harper (Bridey Elliott), the petulant, chronically impulsive daughter of an affluent father, and Allie (Clare McNulty), her comparatively responsible but equally self-obsessed roommate, meet two guys at a rooftop party in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, they resolve to bicycle the next day to the Fort Tilden beach in Queens to meet them. But en route, they encounter assorted distractions: an errand to score drugs, shopping opportunities, a failed quest for good coffee, a stolen bicycle, a fickle livery-cab driver and a bike collision with a baby carriage whose occupant has parents even more demanding than the young women. (A concerned citizen is played by Jarreau Carrillo.)

Allie, who skips a job interview with the Peace Corps, resents pestering calls from her point of contact; Harper — well, she’s just annoyed by anything smacking of personal accountability.

This picaresque lark benefits from sunny locations, a percolating rhythm and the tart chemistry of its principals. Ms. McNulty, a skillful performer in her own right, must take a back seat to Ms. Elliott, an Upright Citizens Brigade regular and the daughter of the comedian Chris Elliott. Her fearless willingness to embody venality has a magnetism all its own.

“Fort Tilden” is rated R (under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Nudity, drug use and acutely ribald language.

Correction: August 13, 2015

An earlier version of this review misidentified the actor playing the man identified as the “concerned citizen,” the Cobble Hill iPhone videographer. He is Jarreau Carrillo, not Reggie Watts. Reggie Watts played himself in the film.



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