Burning Bodhi Film Review: The Big Chill For Millennials

Burning Bodhi is a trendy variation on “The Big Chill” for the Millennial Generation, starring Kaley Cuoco. In high school several years back, Bodhi was one of the popular guys. So, when he passes away unexpectedly from an aneurysm, many of his old school friends, who have moved away, come home to attend his funeral.

Sitting on the car, a scene from Burning Bodhi.
Scene from Burning Bodhi.

“Home” is Albuquerque, New Mexico, and that is where the service is to be held. The friends are a little spread out, some in college, some stayed and one ran afoul of the law. One of those friends is Miguel, played by Eli Vargas. Miguel is driving from Chicago, and along the way, he picks up a pregnant hitchhiker, played by Sasha Pieterse. Miguel’s roommate, Dylan, played by Landon Liboiron, is also coming back from college. His mother, played by Virginia Madsen, hasn’t seen him since he first left home.

Ember, played by Cody Horn, is a promiscuous lesbian bimbo. She admits sleeping with Bodhi, even though she says she is lesbian. Katy, played by Kaley Cuoco, has a child being raised by her grandmother. She spent time in jail for drug possession and for evading police in a high-speed car chase. She is now out om probation.

Burning Bodhi Synopsis

Lifelong friends stumble back home after high school when word goes out on Facebook that the most popular among them has died. Old girlfriends, boyfriends, new lovers, parents … The reunion stirs up feelings of love, longing and regret, intertwined with the novelty of forgiveness, mortality and gratitude.

Linkage to Bodhi

This motley crew of mourners and others reunite to reminisce, imbibe and assess the state of their lives, in this alternately whimsical and sobering review of life and mortality.

The plot thickens when Dylan’s jealous girlfriend Lauren, played by Meghann Fahy, shows up in time to put the kibosh on any rekindling of romance between him and his ex, Katy. Meanwhile, Ember can hardly contain her crush on Katy, who was dumped by Dylan for sleeping with the dearly departed Bodhi right after he left for the Windy City. And there is more.

Writing and Directorial Debut

We are treated to the debut of the outstanding writing and directorial debut of Matthew McDuffie. He does an excellent job of capturing the attitudes and angst of today’s twenty-somethings. It isn’t surprising that the scene is set in Albuquerque, because McDuffie was formerly a part-time screenwriting lecturer at the University of New Mexico.

McDuffie’s pithy dialogue is laced with lots of memorable lines. They include this: “Maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is just you coming out of another vagina.” Executing this flip script is a very talented ensemble led by Kaley Cuoco, who we’ve seen in The Big Bang Theory. She shows us that she has an impressive acting range, well outside the role of Penny who she plays on that popular sitcom.


Burning Bodhi is a compelling, character-driven soap opera that examines the incestuous coupling, uncoupling, re-coupling, revelations and regrets among a wacky clique of world-weary ex-classmates. It is a trendy, Millennial Generation variation on The Big Chill, and it certainly gives that beloved classic a real run for its money.

Burning Bodhi
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity, sexual references and drug use.
Running time: 93 minutes
Distributor: Monterey Media

Watch the Burning Bodhi trailer

Kam Williams is a popular and top NewsBlaze reviewer, our chief critic. Kam gives his unvarnished opinion on movies, DVDs and books, plus many in-depth and revealing celebrity interviews.

Sadly, Lloyd Kam Williams passed away in 2019, leaving behind a huge body of work focused on America’s black entertainment community. We were as sad to hear of his passing as we were overjoyed to have him as part of our team.