Hollywood had been trying to lure best-selling essayist David Sedaris for decades, but it was a young filmmaker named Kyle Patrick Alvarez (Easier With Practice) who finally won over the author. Based on a short story from Sedaris’s 1997 anthology, Naked, C.O.G. — or Child of God — wasn’t the most obvious choice from the writer’s catalog, which includes hilarious tales of his extended family. In fact, Sedaris had been reluctant to say yes to any movie that depicted his family. As he said at the Sundance Film Festival, where C.O.G. premiered, “I realize my fear wasn’t that they’d get us wrong. My fear was that they’d get us right.”
In C.O.G., however, only Sedaris himself is subjected to the Hollywood treatment. Jonathan Groff (Glee) plays David, an idealistic East Coast snob who arranges to work the earth as an apple picker in Oregon. Along the way, he meets people who poke holes in his noble fantasy and the idea of where he fits in the world. So how did it feel to see a version of himself on screen? “I cringe, but I can’t deny it,” said Sedaris. “I can’t deny that I had to act like I was smarter than everyone else. It was embarrassing [to watch]. I just cringe.”
In other words, it’s delightful.
In this exclusive scene from the beginning of the movie, David travels cross-country by bus to Oregon. Though there’s no narration in the film, it’s by far the most Sedaris-esque sequence from C.O.G. — you can easily imagine his NPR voice describing the motley collection of passengers that make his trek a living hell.
C.O.G. opens in theaters and on VOD on Sept. 20.