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Billy's Dad Is a Fudge-Packer! (2004)

Not Rated  |   |  Short, Comedy  |  7 November 2004 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 363 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

In this, her first non acting effort, writer/director Jamie Donahue parodies the 1950's high school educational film.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Narrator (voice)
...
Billy's Dad
...
Billy's Mother
...
Betty Henderson
...
Billy's Sister
...
Nathan Weiss ...
Billy's Pal
Scott Rankin ...
Billy's Pal
...
Sister's Boyfriend
Steven Guy ...
Factory Worker
Benjamin Wilkins ...
Factory Worker
Tom Sanchez ...
Factory Worker (as Thomas Sanchez)
...
Factory Worker
Jim Pojas ...
Factory Worker
Adam Hidalgo ...
Factory Worker
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Storyline

This mock 1950s-styled educational film chronicles a phase in the life a school aged boy, Billy, whose thoughts turn to what he wants to be when he grows up, as career day is approaching at school. Not knowing what he wants to do, he wishes he had it as easy as his sister, who only has to attract a man to become his wife. Billy has as role models his father, mother, and neighbor Betty Henderson whose double entendre activities demonstrate that Billy can be and do whatever and whoever he wants when he grows up. Written by Huggo

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Genres:

Short | Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Release Date:

7 November 2004 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Ham-fisted?
22 August 2010 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

As an aficionado of ephemeral films of the 1950s, a friend of mine put me in the direction of this parody of said genre. Unfortunately, the almost three minutes credits in its mere ten minute running time (!) betray its origins as yet another clueless Hollywood product.

While clearly a lot of effort went into the production of this short (judging by how many people worked on it), director/writer Donahue is derailed by not being true to the source material, and ultimately, a script that is not very funny. What the audience is presented with is a ghoulish caricature of 1950s American culture, made by someone who either didn't study or didn't grasp the lexicon of industrial films from that era. This caricature/alternate world is apparently a gag that is regularly cultivated in modern film, so to some degree, the false notes this film hits come to no surprise.

The look of the film is that of someone who thinks that the only characteristic that defines 1950s industrial film-making is to shoot in black and white. Many of the other aspects of the photography are anachronistic, such as the lighting, compositions of set-ups, and the fatal use of a zoom lens in a couple of its shots.

The short (and I do mean short) sabotages itself with its own brand of humor. The film's message is either an effect of or effected by its production company, POWER UP, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to offering lesbian film-makers support. This may come as something of a shock to some viewers, as the film's script is decidedly mean-spirited, mocking the genre's supposedly misogynistic attitudes, while overlooking the fact that most industrial films of that time were made outside of Hollywood by particularly left-wing and even black-listed filmmakers. Much of the subversive humor than can be found in these shorts is lost here entirely.

All sorts of questionable sexual innuendos are underlined and highlighted twice over by the ubiquitous 1950s narrator. These basic jokes could have been much more effective by subtlety, but their obvious and in-your-face attitude aren't funny if you're even mildly intuitive. Could the lesbian grocery lady pull out anything *but* a phallic object from her bag? The answer is yes: a pair of melons. How many times have we seen *that* gag? The only character that comes close to being identifiable with the audience is that played by Alex Borstein, and even she is the butt of several jokes. Donahue doesn't realize that you can't make statements with cardboard characters, even if if you do so by making them the polar opposite of what you believe in.

I'll give it a "2" for the fact that the picture obviously employed a number of people for it, but my suggestion to like-filmmakers is to use this picture only as a reference of what *not* to do when creating a satire. In contrast, watch Mel Brooks' YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and compare it to any of the 1930s Universal Horror films it lampooned. You will see where BILLY'S DAD lands astray.


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