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Sometimes it's fun to scan the video store shelves and try to find a movie that you've never heard of, but which stars people you have (heard of). For an avid movie-goer like myself, no easy task. But such was my mindset when I rented the very obscure "Instant Karma", starring as it did the reasonably well known and generally competent actor Craig Sheffer, as well as former teen idol David Cassidy, and world class babe Chelsea Noble for good measure.
And after watching it, I have to say, this is something I must never do again.
Since there is no other information posted, besides cast and crew, I'll briefly describe the premise. Sheffer plays a charmless, self-doubting writer-producer of a shlock prime time hit TV show called "Rock and Roll P.I.", who is having great difficulty finding the right woman after his ex-fiancee leaves him for someone else (a woman, as if it matters). Though he drives a cool car and lives in a nice oceanside home, he is supremely unhappy over how his show has been turned into junk by network executives and the show's temperamental, coke snorting star, David Cassidy. To make matters worse, he is being investigated by the I.R.S. concerning years of apparently unpaid income tax. He is also preoccupied with an angelic, beautiful actress guesting on one of the shows (Noble) and struggles throughout the rest of the movie to make a good impression on her.
That's it. Though I think I've made it sound even more interesting than it really is. It would like to be something along the lines of Kevin Bacon's "The Big Picture", a minor but clever satire about the absurdities of the TV/Film industry. It's not even close. The most remarkable thing about "Karma" is how featureless it is; it's like a few faint marks and scratches on an otherwise blank piece of paper. Its director, Roderick Taylor, seems to have no sensibility, no style. Some movies have good rhythm, bad rhythm, so-so rhythm; this has literally no rhythm. Though God knows Taylor tries. There are numerous bizarre, purpose-less camera angles that will have you scratching your head. (I was particularly amused by the overhead shots of Sheffer discussing his financial situation w. his accountant.) Even more excruciating are the series of interminably long helicopter shots of Sheffer driving through the Hollywood hills to the sound of cheesy rock music. This movie is a ridiculously long 102 minutes, especially considering the paper thin storyline, mostly due to some horrible editing.
Practically everything about it is crummy and cramped. Never before has Hollywood been made to look so drab and uneventful. And Sheffer really sets the tone. We are asked to root for a thoroughly charmless, uninteresting, unattractive shlub. We keep waiting for him to have some breakthrough, to show some spark of life but he never does. And this absolutely destroys his scenes with Noble. Not only does he come across as extremely creepy and unlikable when he's around her (due to nerves and shyness, or whatever) he's that way all the time! This is not Jon Cryer in a John Hughes film creepy, where we can see the vulnerability and the personality underneath; he is just a cold fish of a human being who is impossible to identify with or relate to. And yet, after their cringing, awkward introduction, the camera closes in on Noble's sweet face as she is apparently dreaming about starting a family with this oh so dreamy blank page of a human being. The rest of their scenes together are like really really bad improv (though the fault rests mostly with Sheffer, as Noble is an actress who always exudes great warmth).
As for David Cassidy? Well, it's interesting to note that he made 2 movies in 1990: this one and "Spirit of '76". Let's just say it's not terribly surprising that he has not turned up in any films since then.
On a final note, there is a supporting character in this film (the accountant) named Oscar Meyer. And Sheffer's character has the same name (Zane Smith) as a little known, but reasonably successful major league baseball player who pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves.
My question to the filmmakers in my best David Spade tone of voice: And the point of this would be ... ?
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