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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

mans attempt to fulfill dying wish helps him find a family along the way

Author: scribblewritings ( from United States
8 May 2006

This film is amazingly refreshing in its heartfelt and quirky simplicity.

Mackenzie Astin is perfect; not being familiar with his work I would say, at face value, that this is his opus. Perhaps he is simply a very good actor, or perhaps one can recognize just how involved he became with this character.

Independent film these days is always searching for a hook or something that will make it sell or become a cult classic - unlike films of the past that evolved into cult status organically without the influence of Hollywood number crunchers.

The story is beautiful - all of these lonely people, "orphans," find each other and a new meaning in life through the warning of death - watch as Average Joe does things that all of us want to do (pummel perverts, kiss pretty girls, shoot...things) but like him we refrain- but Joe's outta time and it's time to let go, and find the one person he ever met that was not bound by what holds all of us back when we're scared of what might happen the next day. A noble effort from a meek man.

the rich dry humor is classic and there is a certain repetition and flow that the director chooses that i find to be quite entertaining. the other actors are great - especially the other Zeros. watch for the hilarious hotel clerks- - wonderful awkward pauses - an endearing grandma and raining cow guts.

aside for some uneven make up as Joe's health depletes - I wouldn't change a single thing from this fun and moving film.

good morning wont you get up? its a beautiful day.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

John Ryman is not David Lynch...and that's good

Author: Jeremy White from Lake Charles, Louisiana
12 November 2005

The main problem I have with comparisons to David Lynch is that they rarely describe something that actually feels like David Lynch. It was with this in mind that I begrudgingly picked up "The Zeros", a newspaper quote emblazoned on the box cover making that inevitable comparison.

Forget David Lynch. Think Samuel Beckett and Albert Camus. Granted, this movie is strange, but not for effect; this movie is strange because without the strangeness it would be impossible to evoke the same emotional response and connection to the involved characters.

In "The Zeros", we have a classically doomed protagonist, Joe, suffering from an unidentified disease and trying to get back to a girl he knew in childhood, but whose significance to Joe remains blurred until the end of the movie. The beauty of this movie is that while it seems on the surface to be an oddball take on a buddy/road trip theme, it is delivered without resorting to one-liners or polished humor. The entire thing feels like the actors read the script once and then played out the characters the way they remembered them without dwelling too heavily on the specifics, making this feel like the most real performance ever of a completely absurd story.

It's always strange to find out that a character you're watching is someone you don't know that you know. Such was the case with Mackenzie Astin in "The Zeros", who I haven't seen since the old Disney movie "Iron Will" nearly a decade ago. Now I feel compelled to go back and find out what else he's done.

Throughout the movie, the cast of characters (who in any other movie would seem stale and depressing) stays keenly real. The beautiful capturing of this story, from the protagonist sitting alone in the desert to scenes of people doing nothing more than reacting to one another and searching for the right word, makes it seem like you have discovered somebody's lost home video, and it just happened to be terribly interesting.

The dialogue between Mackenzie Astin and John Ales is some of the best performed, ever. There are many potential pitfalls and so many ways they can ruin this script- it seems a very easy beast to get wrong- but they never falter. Watch this. Watch this if for no other reason than these guys give a wonderful performance. Watch this if you want to see Kyle Gass argue with a puppet. The script may be odd, but David Lynch this is not. It's too bizarre. It feels too real. I only wish it had been longer.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It's good! it's bad! It's ugly! It's worth watching!

Author: CannibalisticCouchPotato from United States
15 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie could use some work, but damn't! I liked it.

This might not be for everyone, but if there is someone in your past who you hardly, if ever, go a day without thinking of, though you may have not seen them in years or even decades and if there is someone for whom you sometimes get the mad urge to drop every thing so you can find them again, so that you can at least tell them how essential and sustaining just the memory of them is. You might also want to tell them how almost unbearable the memory of them sometimes is because they aren't in your life but you wouldn't, because that would be too much.

Yeah, this movie would just be for the people who know from personal experience what I'm saying in the proceeding sentences, but heck! Isn't that almost everyone? I loved the way the audio tapes were used to create humorous confusion and to efficiently explain a great deal and in the very end to such poignant effect. There were other clever devices used in the movie that I'll let you discover on your own.

Unlike most movies the ending works. For me, if it all pulls together in the end it's a good movie.

The name sort of sucks though.



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Suffers from a common indy flick flaw

Author: MBunge from Waterloo, Iowa
25 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sadly, The Zeros is the sort of film that has come to define too much of independent cinema. It thinks it can pass over some of the basic mechanics of storytelling in favor of a whimsical, quirky tone, but tone can only get you so far.

Joe (Mackenzie Astin) is told by a doctor with all the bedside manner of an IRS agent that he's going to die from some unknown illness. They don't know how long Joe's got but it's not long, so the doctor gives him some medicated lollipops and tells Joe to fill his remaining days with steaks and sunsets. Joe, however, has a different idea. He wants to find a girl named Joyce (Jennifer Morrison) that he once knew when he was a boy. So he climbs into his car and sets out to track her down. Along the way he picks up Seth (John Ales) - a naïve cult member who begs Joe to take him away before the rest of the cult kills themselves, and Fanny - a budding young stripper that Joe wants to save, even though Fanny doesn't appear to need any saving at all. Joe passes through nursing homes, rollerskating strip clubs, cattle barns with exploding cows and a carnival before finally coming face to face with Joyce.

If that seems like a fairly thin story, it is. Throw in Joe and Seth picking up one of the world's worst ventriloquists on the side of the road and that's pretty much everything that happens. But The Zeros isn't really one of those movies where what happens is all that important. Instead it wants to slather you all over with alternating moods of bemusement and melancholy.

The best thing about this film is the last scene with Joe and Joyce where we finally find out why getting to see her before he dies is so important to Joe. Jennifer Morrison is very good in a difficult role, being asked to come on screen in the final minutes and live up to the audience's expectations. At first she doesn't even recognize Joe, but as she slowly remembers him and realizes what she means to him, you can see these slow tides of amazement, pity and regret wash over her face.

That closing scene would have been even better if the movie had done anything to really build up to it. It's clear that John Ryman started out with that final scene in mind and worked backwards, but instead of writing a script that slowly ramped up the emotions and kept us questioning what Joe really wanted out of Joyce, he wrote a script that just killed time with various little digressions that don't have anything to do with the final scene. The Zeros meanders across the screen without really focusing the audience's attention on any particular thing or in any particular direction. A lot of independent filmmakers seem to think that applying any sort of focus to their stories is artificial and contrived. They apparently love the idea that their films are like life, where stuff just happens and then it ends.

But a movie isn't like life. At its best, a movie is taking sections and elements of a life and condensing them down into around two hours. That condensation requires focus, so that the movie includes all the important things to the story and leaves out the trivial. Films like The Zeros, though, let the trivia make up too much of their story and asks the audience to assume much of the important stuff in their own minds.

The other good thing about this film is the performance of Rachel Wilson as Fanny. Even though she has little to do in the story, she's quite good as a living, breathing person who doesn't really fit in with the mopey existence of Joe and Seth. But the movie doesn't do anything with her until it just arbitrarily writes her and Seth of the story, only because both characters have to be gone for Ryman's ending to occur.

The Zeros is mildly diverting, but it's one of those unconventional films that actually would have been better if it had been more conventional. Even if you like it, you walk away from it wondering why you didn't like it even more.

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2 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

An incomplete film

Author: dantown from United States
30 December 2005

This is a movie that needs a bit of work. This is not a shameful review, of a movie, that, fully-realized, might be wonderful. Mackenzie Aston clearly holds this movie in his heart. I liked this movie. There is a plot , a heart, a mind and a joy to this story. I wish it were only told. Mr. Aston needs a director and script which successfully transforms his idea into a movie. Aston is not at fault for this failed attempt at a movie. I sincerely and respectfully request that Mr. Aston begin again. He will SUCCEED. Mr.Aston will never succeed if he does not TRY. Aston and his fellow actors SUCCEED in acting, in this movie. The movie, The Zeros, is a fine attempt, but a failed attempt.

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