SHAKING THE TREE deals with the lives of four buddies, Barry, Michael, Duke, and Sully, ten years after high school. The film skillfully mixes acting performances by a cast of unknowns, with an occasional outstanding vignette, complete with a surprisingly uplifting ending. Unfortunately, these assets are overshadowed by nonstop cursing and sexual innuendo.
SHAKING THE TREE deals with the lives of four buddies, Barry, Michael, Duke, and Sully, ten years after high school. The story begins in 1989. Barry is an up and coming stock broker whose engagement slides onto thin ice because of his fiance’s sexual history. Michael is a college teaching assistant who can’t come to grips with impending parenthood, and so he edges toward an affair with a willing coed. Meanwhile, Duke tends bar with equal measures of skill and regret, as his promising boxing career was cut short by an eye injury. Lastly, Sully is an immature rich kid who careens through life SHAKING THE TREE, leaving the mess behind for others to clean up.
Filmed on a shoestring budget, SHAKING THE TREE effectively interweaves the various story lines. It emphasizes that sexual escapades prior to marriage lead to serious problems. Also demonstrated is the difference between condoning disruptive behavior and rescuing a friend from the brink of death. Furthermore, the value of marital fidelity and parenthood is upheld. Regrettably, these valuable messages are diluted by a “language barrier” of causal obscenity and the sexual exploits of one character.
(LLL, V, S, B) 75 obscenities and 20 profanities, a brief fistfight, offhanded references to sex and implied sexual immortality, gambling (negatively portrayed), and guzzling alcohol and smoking overshadow two moral insights that: sexual escapades prior to marriage lead to serious problems, and there is a difference between condoning disruptive behavior and rescuing a friend from death.