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|Index||25 reviews in total|
I saw this at the Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck, Michigan.
Bart Got a Room is a funny and clever film starring Steven Kaplan as Danny Stein, a senior in high school who isn't sure what to do about the Senior Prom. His best friend Camille who he's known for many years (Alia Shawkat) seems like the obvious choice, but after another friend mentions that everyone that's going to prom has gotten a hotel room for the big night, Danny realizes he needs someone other than his "best friend" to take back to a hotel room.
This film is very well made an well written. Kaplan is a natural actor, he does a wonderful job playing Danny, he's like a teenage Woody Allen, having trouble finding someone to go out on a date with and not knowing how to talk to women. And Cheryl Hines and William H Macy are also perfect as Danny's separated parents. Macy is a delight having many of the big laughs in the film, which I'm sure is increased by his hilarious hair. John Polito is great as well playing Cheryl's new love interest. And there's also a funny cameo near the end of the film.
Writer/Director Brian Hecker made a great teen comedy. The audience at the screening loved it, applauding many times throughout. Seek this one out, it's a very entertaining film that's sure to please. See it then spread the word.
Oh, and be sure to stay for the end credits.
Written and directed by Brian Hecker, "Bart Got a Room" is a
semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale set in south Florida where
high school geek Danny Stein won't be in the demographic majority for
another fifty years yet. A good Jewish boy, Danny is all excited about
attending his senior prom - or at least he would be if he could get the
hot sophomore he drives to school every day to agree to go as his date.
Unfortunately, she thinks of him merely as an older-brother type, so
Danny is forced to look elsewhere for options, including the Plain Jane
Camille (Alia Shawkat), who's been his best friend since childhood and
obviously wishes Danny felt about her the way she feels about him.
Danny also has to contend with the fact that his soon-to-be-divorced
parents (wonderfully played by William H. Macy and Cheryl Hines) are
already in the market for future spouses and that they keep the
understandably mortified youngster continually posted on their dating
Though in terms of plotting there's little that separates "Bart Got a Room" from countless other films in the same genre, the movie finds a wealth of truth and humor in its deadpan depictions of ordinary life. Bart and all the figures who inhabit his world go through their days just trying to make the best of bad situations, searching for that one little nugget of happiness that will make the crushing banality of the rest of their lives at least tolerable, if not worthwhile. For Danny, it's getting a date for the prom and meeting an attractive girl who will reciprocate his romantic interest; for his parents, it's trying to get that one last stab at coupled attachment in a world where youth is prized above all else and where they're faced with a daily reminder of what awaits them in their fast-approaching "golden years;" for Camille, it's trying to get the boy she's attracted to to see her as a burgeoning woman with sexual appetites and not just a platonic buddy to study and hang out with.
"Bart Got a Room" nicely captures the exaggerated nature of teenage trauma, when showing up dateless to the prom is a personal tragedy comparable only to the crash of the Hindenburg or the sinking of the Titanic. And Steve Kaplan perfectly conveys every bit of the angst Danny experiences as he maneuvers his way through those shark-infested waters known as adolescence.
I started off disliking 'Bart Got a Room' due to its painfully obvious set up, clichés and predictable storyline where you knew where this was going from the get-go. For the most part, it unfolded to where you thought so with just a hint of surprises. The idea behind the film, and hence the title, involves high schoolers scrambling to get a date and a "room" for prom night, since *Bart* got a room. Sure, when Bart's revealed in the room, they overshoot his nerd-factor, but the movie's clearly mean-spirited from all angles on a person that's different from the "norm." Again, they did dress up Bart as the stereotypical arrogant "Napoleon Dynamite," but it was a pretty harsh reality the parents were teaching their kids to be judgmental. Some segments were funny, I'll admit, but those few and far between scenes involved Macy (namely the woman running for her life and the older female with a housewarming gift.) And it was touching how down-on-his-own-bad-luck divorced father Macy would give up everything, including a date with poker-great Tilly, to aid his son's quest for a date. 'Bart' was a sweet, innocent movie (other than few scenes knocking down different people) and you could do worse, but there are far better high school comedies. Such as 'Election,' 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off,' and 'Juno.' You have to give kudos to the lead, Kaplan for trying to carry the movie, but not so much for the supporting case, like the overly clichéd "heavy-set" buddy, the pretty blonde cheerleader and the plain-Jane BFF that, shocking, should be his first pick for the prom. We've seen this plot dozens of times over, and one of my favorites was 'Some Kind of Wonderful.' Ironically, director Hecker, did seem to attempt (unsuccessfully) the heart of most Hughes movies.
I remember seeing a preview for this movie on The Movie Channel, I think that was the channel. Then about 2 days later I saw the movie for sale at Wal-mart. That night I actually watched it. I thought it was hilarious in so many ways. Yeah, some of the humor is kind of ridiculous but it's directed towards teens and young adults. In so many ways I can relate to this movie and so can other people i'm sure. I was very pleased with William H. Macy's performance. I also liked it because it had both actors we already know, and some that we have never seen before, or at least I haven't. All in all I think this film was very good and I hope that everyone gets a chance to see it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When the people behind "Bart Got A Room" call it a film about a guy
looking for a date for the prom, they mean just that. There's no
emotional subtext whatsoever to this search. Why is it so important to
him, and why should we care? Danny is such a blank slate, and the
writing doesn't offer many insights into who he is as a person. Compare
Danny in your mind with more interesting movie teenagers, like Max from
"Rushmore" or Harold from "Harold and Maude," and you'll see what I
mean. And the actor playing Danny does little to illuminate that he has
any kind of inner life at all.
Danny's parents are equally bland and uninteresting. The only truly insightful moment occurs when one of Danny's friends discussing going to the zoo with his mother. (The mother, a divorced woman, hates going to the zoo but is desperately trying to please her new boyfriend.) What is the film even about? Is it about the close friendship between Danny and Camille? But even after the hot girl turns him down, he decides to keep shopping around, rather than turn to Camille, which she herself acknowledges. The film doesn't provide any real scenes to establish the bond they share. (Sorry. Showing old photos of them as children and having narration isn't enough.) I thought the film might be about a boy choosing not to cross over the threshold from childhood to adulthood. Children like to have fun, play with their friends and bond with their parents. Young adults want to carve our their own identities, be independent, distance themselves from their parents and explore their sexuality. So which side does Danny ultimately fall down on youth or maturity? The film (SPOILERS!) explains at the end that he chose to spend his prom night not with his peers but with his parents and his platonic friend. It further explains that the hotel room, that presumed symbol of sexual maturity, was used instead to play Boggle, a children's game, with his parents and platonic childhood friend.
But then, that youth vs. maturity interpretation doesn't really work either. So many different directions the film could have gone in, and yet, in the end, the filmmakers never really chose a path.
I first heard about this movie when Brandon Hardesty announced he had a role in it on his YouTube channel. I waited patiently for it to be released on DVD, since it never played in theaters in my town I completely forgot about it until I saw a copy of it at Blockbuster. I immediately grabbed it, bought it, took it home, and watched it. Right off the bat, it was funny and entertaining. Steven Kaplan does a great job playing Danny, a high-schooler who has everything set for his big prom - except the girl. The majority of the film is him trying to find the perfect girl in the huge high-school environment. His divorced parents, wonderfully portrayed by William H. Macy and Cheryl Hines add lots of humor to the film, such as his dad's advice and tips to help Danny find the perfect girl. Alia Shawkat plays Danny's best friend, who was expecting him to take her to the prom, only to be disappointed that he wants to find different girl. Sure, some of the scenes may be slightly predictable, but still, this is a very funny and touching teen comedy that a bunch of people can relate to.
A modest little independent comedy that would like to be quirky but
doesn't quite know how to be, Bart's Got a Room isn't about Bart at all
although he does make a couple of brief appearances. The fact he has
got a room (for the school prom) is used as a benchmark against which
our young hero Danny can measure how badly he has failed in his
attempts to get a date for that bizarre American ritual called prom
night. Of course, as an aside, it's true that inappropriately
extravagant prom nights are no longer an exclusively American custom:
having adopted the 'extortion with threats' routine known as Trick or
Treat, the 350-channel TV (342 of which you will never watch), and the
'no win-no fee' legal representation when our own stupidity causes us
to injure ourselves while at work, the Americanisation of Britain
continues apace with our school-kids now dressing up and hiring rented
limousines for their 'school leaver's disco.' I am absolutely certain
that before my life is over Britain will be celebrating every fourth of
Anyway, Danny has had a loyal friend for ten years who just happens to be a pleasant but not spectacularly beautiful or popular girl who would love him to ask her to the prom. He also has a mother who is on the verge of marrying a decent but unsuitable man and a father who is desperately seeking love on the internet. Now, given this template it isn't difficult to figure out how this film is going to end. That doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing though, as long as the journey to that predictable conclusion is an original and entertaining one. Sadly, Bart's Got a Room is only partially successful. Many of the incidents here have been seen countless times before (although usually handled with less sensitivity). The film seeks to make points about the futility and self-defeating nature of trying too hard to find the perfect mate, and it does this in a straightforward manner, but it's a message that most of us innately understand from youth, anyway and those that don't are usually still struggling to find that perfect one thirty years after their prom date and will never listen to messages like this. While there's nothing wrong with preaching the message, it's hardly an earth-shattering revelation, and you can't help thinking that surely the filmmakers could find something a little more insightful to build a film around.
The performances are pretty good. William Macy stands out (as usual) as our hero's father who, sporting a perm from hell, strives to find a perfect mate while refusing to accept that, just maybe, he used to be married to her. Jon Polito is also good as mum's new beau, striking just the right level of likability for the role. The film's running time is fairly brief and it has its moments, but the end result doesn't measure up to its potential.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Anything with William H. Macy is a winner but this clever, funny tale about a high school kid finding a date for prom brings it full circle. Both parents and kids will relate and enjoy this movie. It appeals to all ages. I especially liked the countdown time line to prom and all the various girls he tries to get to go with him. I highly recommend this film to watch again and again ! The background and staging are excellent. The sideline characters are also great and truly add to the film. The parents relationship with each other and finding new people to date is something divorced parents will find very amusing. The scene with the dad in his new apartment is priceless.
A sweet, high school, screwball-lite with a great ending, and some enduring one liners, and a delightful William H Macy. The look of the film is litter with nice, small details that make the whole thing feel more real. The score is subtle, with a nice whimsical element to it. I was expecting a silly, maybe fun, raunch fest, but was glad to see I got something more real, touching, and delightful. The ending, at the prom, detouring into a bar mitzvah is adorable, with a great voice over from the lead, who plays slightly pathetic underdog well. When Macy buys a hooker for Bart to take to the prom, it's funny as hell. All in all, all sorts of fun.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Danny Stein, an earnest young man, is the son of divorced parents. His
best friend Camille and Danny are involved in the school television
channel where they comment on the upcoming events and school
activities. Like all seniors of his age group, Danny has been looking
to that special night where he will have a chance to boogie with his
classmates and afterward, if he gets lucky, he will score with the girl
of his dreams. The problem is Danny does everything wrong and
ultimately finds himself dateless for the big night. Why, even the
nerdy Bart got a room that was upgraded to a suite!
Brian Hecker, the writer of this mildly funny comedy, also directed. He knows these teens well, yet, the final product is not as good as some of its parts. Mr. Hecker main contribution is the atmosphere he creates around the residents of Hollywood, Florida. There are always older folks anywhere the film takes us. Yet, the action is centered among the younger crowd.
Stephen Kaplan shows a good affinity for the material. Best of all in the film is William H. Macy, an actor's actor. He plays Ernie Stein, the swinging divorced man looking for love in all the wrong places. His Ernie sports a permanent, although he is balding, yet, he never misses a chance to make a pass at a pretty girl. Cheryl Hines, of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" fame, is seen as Danny's mother, now in a relationship with an older man, who appears will be her salvation. We enjoyed Alia Shawkat, who plays Camille; she's Danny's best friend, but unfortunately, Danny doesn't realize it until it's too late.
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