Megan Stalter’s Starpower Is On Full Display In Queer Cringe Comedy


  • Megan Stalter excels at playing deluded characters, bringing laughs and depth to Cora Bora‘s emotional journey.
  • Cora’s willful obliviousness turns screwball comedy into a nuanced exploration of self-discovery and change.
  • Stalter’s performance adds layers to Cora’s messy life, revealing hidden truths with impeccable comedic timing.

While on the 2023 film festival circuit, Cora Bora was billed as comedian and Hacks scene-stealer Megan Stalter’s first leading role. For me, that was reason enough to prioritize seeing director Hannah Pearl Utt’s (Before You Know It) comedy-drama at Frameline‘s 47th San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival. Stalter delivered in spades, but much in the same way her character, aspiring musician Cora, masks her messy pain with music and self-delusion, Cora Bora masks a gut-punch character study in cringe-comedy trappings.

Anyone familiar with the star’s sketch and improvisational comedy will know that Stalter excels at playing deluded, theatrical characters. It’s exactly why the comedian-turned-actor thrives as Hacks’ Kayla, a self-assured, yet deliberately unaware, Hollywood assistant. Stalter brings those chops to Cora Bora, playing a down-on-her-luck millennial who inexplicably uproots herself, moving from Portland to Los Angeles with dreams of making it, broken guitar case and all.

Coasting from one under-attended gig to another, Cora has a sudden realization: Her girlfriend Justine, played by the ever-charming Jojo T. Gibbs (Twenties, Civil War), is pulling away. With her open relationship on the rocks, Cora decides to show up completely unannounced in Portland — at the house she used to share with Justine. When it becomes painfully clear that Justine has a new primary partner, Riley (Ayden Mayeri), Cora clings to any excuse she can think of to account for Riley’s presence.

Cora’s Willful Obliviousness Is Played For Laughs, But It’s Also More Than Cringe Comedy

Cora Bora uses screwball antics to reveal a more emotional core

If Cora was cringey before, she’s all-out ignoring the writing on the wall in Portland. Justine, who still cares about Cora, tries to gradually make her realize the truth, but Cora’s willful disregard starts to weigh heavily on everyone — Justine, Riley, Cora’s parents, random strangers like music producer Tom (The Good Place‘s Manny Jacinto) or free-spirited artist Margaret Cho, and even Cora’s mis-gendered lost dog. People who are pulled into Cora’s antics ask her repeatedly a variation of “What’s wrong with you? Played for laughs, the question also hints at the reason for Cora’s oft-unhinged behavior.

Cora Bora’s Complexity Shines Thanks To Megan Stalter’s Nuanced Performance

Stalter has pitch-perfect comedic timing & dramatic chops

During one of her sets, Cora sings, “All those who wander are totally f***ing lost” in a droning deadpan. It’s hilarious because it evokes a PG-13 version of Friend’s Phoebe Buffay taking aim at empty “Live, Laugh, Love”-style platitudes. However, as Cora Bora unfolds, that lyric underscores a searing truth. We don’t learn what terrible thing pushed Cora to leave Portland until the last sliver of the film. When it happens, Cora’s life is messier than ever.

Stalter’s performance puts her comic star power on full display, reiterating the actor’s pitch-perfect comedic timing.

Suffice it to say that the reveal is jarring, but not in a bad way. Punctuated by heart-aching moments, Stalter’s performance puts her comic star power on full display, reiterating the actor’s excellent comedic timing. Stalter convinces us to really buy into her character’s willful brush asides and squirm-inducing ramblings. But all of it is careful deflection. Cora wants to leave certain things far behind, but she also fears complete change. At every turn, she finds herself running, though she clearly doesn’t know where to turn next.

This reveal turns Cora Bora into a screwball comedy with surprising nuance and layers — a coming-of-age story that stems from a life being so completely upended. Utt and screenwriter Rhianon Jones tap into the genre’s hallmarks but manage to subvert expectations, and, ultimately, suggest that being “totally f***ing lost” is okay, even when it’s a total mess.

Cora Bora will be released in theaters nationwide on June 14.

Cora Bora follows Cora, who feels that her relationship is not going well. She goes back home to win her girlfriend back but she will realize that it’s much more than her love life that needs salvaging.


  • Megan Stalter has perfect comedic timing and really sells us on her character
  • Cora Bora is cringe comedy at its best
  • The film may be a comedy, but it offers a nuanced portrayal of self-discovery
  • The story has a lot of depth and delivers a fun, yet incisive story

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