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Review: Justin Long leads a sharp cast in the comforting comedy ‘After Class’

Justin Long in “After Class.”
Justin Long in “After Class.”
(Gravitas Ventures)

Ah, families: can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. And so it goes again in “After Class,” the funny, warmly authentic tale of Josh Cohn (the always welcome Justin Long, at his elastic best), an adjunct creative writing professor in a bit of hot water, whose fractious New York clan is holding a vigil for its beloved dying matriarch, Josh’s grandma Agatha (Lynn Cohen).

We’ve seen many versions of this kind of story before, but there’s something so spot-on and involving about the film, written and directed by Daniel Schechter — and performed with such a lived-in rhythm by its talented cast — that it proves surprisingly refreshing.

Schechter nails the impatient, beleaguered dynamic that can occur among disparate family members who love and need one another more than they may admit. And if the lively, at times immature Josh takes center stage here, his neurotic sister Jackie (Kate Berlant), tense brother David (Michael Godere), divorced parents Diane (Fran Drescher) and Jeff (Richard Schiff) and the endearing Agatha are all equally vivid, relatable creations.

The movie also deftly, evenhandedly captures the perils of political correctness as Josh’s lecture-hall misstep puts him on the firing line with students and administrators. A late-breaking showdown pitting Josh, Jackie and David against Jeff and his awful second wife is a beaut.

“After Class”
Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Playing: Lumiere Music Hall, Beverly Hills; Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood; also on VOD
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