We’re at SXSW… kind of! The event is taking place virtually this year so while we’re all watching movies online we’re still bringing you coverage of the best film festival of the year. Check out all of our SXSW 2021 coverage.
Meet Morgan Yardley: a happy, carefree exterminator. She’s not bitter that she didn’t make it to vet school, but rather enjoys the life she’s picked out for herself and is happy doing so, blithely chatting away to much more rich and successful clients. That is, until she realises that her father had a second family — and another, better Morgan, exists.
The Other Morgan
Director: Alison Rich
Release date: March 16, 2021 (SXSW)
Rating: Not yet rated
The Other Morgan is the directorial debut of Alison Rich (writer for The Goldbergs.) Rich shines in the lead role, bringing her full comedic presence to the screen. Clocking in at 14-minutes, think of this feature as a pilot episode for a new TV show: plenty of information to fit into a short space of time, but a brilliant outlet for quick repartee and building memorable characters. We profile Morgan: her background, school, family, failed college plans, and current life circumstances. And we take a look at her doppelganger (a wonderfully deadpan Mary Holland), whom she meets through their father Claude (Parks and Rec’s Jim O’Heir.)
Unlike our heroine Morgan 1, Morgan 2 seems to have her whole life together. Morgan 1 is an exterminator; Morgan 2 is a vet. Morgan 1 is casually on-and-off with an ex; Morgan 2 is happily married. Morgan 1 gets a handful of likes on her goofy Instagram feed; Morgan 2’s is full of images of a wonderful, flawless life and has upwards of 2,000 likes per post. Come on, give a girl a break!
The Other Morgan is a quick snapshot of the way we compare ourselves to each other, fuelled by curated images on social media, and how it’s so easy to become dissatisfied when we think others have it better. It’s an extension of the fantasy we’ve all no doubt indulged in from time to time: what would happen if we lived in an alternate reality? Would a better version of us exist with better life choices? But, as Morgan discovers, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. We don’t have to chase obsessions and a perfect life to be happy — it’s about learning to march to the ‘weird beat of your own drum.’ (In Morgan’s case, a really weird beat.)
A wonderful cast comes together to make up the film, and the two Morgans play off each other well. I have to credit Chloe Wepper as Morgan’s old high school classmate, reinvented as Brandi Moon, a star on the cover of Vogue. Her brilliant comic delivery, mile-a-minute talk and complete self-absorption eventually turn into a kinder tone towards Morgan. She’s the one who’s there for Morgan at her lowest and actually has some surprisingly insightful wisdom for her. Not bad for a model-actress-fashionista who wouldn’t usually give an exterminator the time of day.
Rich has a background in comedy, including appearances in 2 Broke Girls and Drunk History, and her TV influences are clear in these short sketches. The editing is well-balanced and contributes to the laughs in the picture: from the hospital bed of her father to the funeral, to a flash-point comparison of family portraits featuring Morgan 1 and Morgan 2. At the wake, she overhears dual conversations gossipping about the family. “If you’re going to have two families, at least give the kids different names.” “One family is so accomplished, and the other is so trashy.” “One son’s at Yale,” “The son’s in jail?” And so on. I’ll leave you to enjoy the rest.
Like all good comedy pieces, The Other Morgan leaves you with a message as well as the gags. It’s ok to be yourself and to find contentment in your life without comparing yourself to others. I got so much joy from this short film and I hope it’s on its way to a VOD release in the near future. Rich has a genuine flair for comedy and The Other Morgan is just the light, breezy slice of comedy that fits so well in the festival circuit.