Max Winkler has mastered both sides of TV and film as director of such comedy series as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl as well as indie films like 2010 Ceremony starring Uma Thurman and Michael Angarano. He comes to the Tribeca Film Festival this year with Flower, a sexually charged teenage comedy that not only is a nod to Paul Brickman’s earlier work, but also turns the 1980s teenage dramedy genre inside out.
Zoey Deutch plays Erica, a 17-year-old who performs sexual favors for older men, and extorts money from them. Her life is shaken up when her free-spirited mother (Kathryn Hahn) invites her boyfriend (Tim Heidecker) and his anxiety-ridden son Luke (Joey Morgan) to move in with them. However, Erica and Luke may just be the best thing to happen to each other. All the while, Erica is fixated on a hot older man at the bowling ally played by the sublime master of deadpan, Adam Scott.
The script came Winkler’s way via Danny McBride, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green’s production company, guys who’ve mined the black comedy out of upside-down suburbanites in HBO’s Vice Principals and Eastbound & Down and features like The Fist Foot Way and Observe And Report. Flower certainly folds into that world.
While mounting an indie edgy teenage comedy comes with its challenges, and there were some starts and stops for Flower, Winkler says “I had an emotional connection” to the material. “I’d never seen a female character do all these things.”
“It felt like a weird 1980s VHS that my older brother gave me disguised in another VHS box. I was excited because all of these movies I loved had male leads like Tom Cruise in Risky Business or Patrick Dempsey in Loverboy,” says the son of Happy Days actor Henry Winkler.
Here, Winkler and Deutch expound on the making of Flower and exactly what makes Erica tick. Upcoming showtimes for Flower at Tribeca can be found here. CAA is handling domestic and foreign sales.