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Ruby Sparks (2012)
Funny and Fun, if Also Quite Derivative
Before I start in with the swooning I feel it my duty to cover the heavy baggage Ruby Sparks carries into the theater. For starters, you should know that this is a big studio film carefully designed as a cute indie movie. Indie culture is the hotness these days, and so movies like Ruby get the kind of polish and push they rarely, if ever, saw in previous decades. The amount of cash put into the promotion of this film alone could keep true indie auteurs like Joe Swanberg and Andrew Bujalski, whom also make smart rom-coms, working for decades. But who cares - film production has always been clouded with smoke and less-than-honest selling. Also, few people outside of festival goers - and critics like myself - see Swanberg- and Bujalski-level indies like the masterful Beeswax (though they should).
The true problem with this dramatic comedy, written by actress Zoe Kazan and directed by the duo behind Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris), is that its device - basically, a slumping writer (Paul Dano) magically creates a new girlfriend by typing out his dreams into a typewriter - is a little too familiar. Remember Marc Forster's excellent Stranger Than Fiction? Same set-up here, right down to the buttoned-up typewriter cliché, but with a different framework. That said, the fantasy element in Ruby Sparks doesn't apologize for itself as Stranger did, and thus reminds more of the movie magic 80s kids like myself, Kazan and co-star/real-life-beau Paul Dano saw on the screen in several Tom Hanks films (Big, Splash, etc.). Ruby also apes the whimsycool mood of (500) Days of Summer, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl fantasy element of Splash and, kinda sorta, the all-too-perfect ending of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
The too-obvious weird science of Kazan's Ruby Sparks script aside, I found the film to be perfectly enjoyable with a handful of notably well defined characters. Sure, the writing is highly derivative and almost too-textbook-for-comfort, but the story plays out quite well. Kazan, a Yale grad who happens to be the granddaughter of legendary director Elia Kazan, proves herself to be a cool, smart writer with a solid knack for pacing and clear narrative. While piecing together a mostly-straight-faced fantasy film like Ruby Sparks does seem quite textbook, any spinner of long form original stories will tell you that writing with a device is an awfully tricky duty. You have to cover all your bases more than you usually would, leaving no holes for the smart audience to gripe about and, inevitably, use to drag down the work (talking to you, M. Night). Kazan, despite lacking in originality and authentic dialog in her writing, sells this story with a surprisingly polished touch.
The highlight of the film, for me, was actor Paul Dano, who has been sitting on the edge of greatness for the better part of the last decade. That the role of the film's protagonist, genius writer Calvin Weir-Fields, was written specifically for Dano is not an opportunity squandered. The actor moves through scenes with humor and grace, neither going too far nor playing to the easy cliché in front of him (skinny, smart writer who can't figure out women). His is a nuanced performance that I believe will resonate with the 18-30 crowd in a way none of his past performances have. As much as I want to picture Jesse Eisenberg in the role (and I'm sure the studio wanted Michael Cera), I can't. This is Paul Dano's character.
Another highlight is the cinematography of Matthew Libatique, best known for his work with Jon Favreau, Darren Aronofsky and Spike Lee. While Ruby isn't the kind of film that wins cinematography statues, it's certainly a beautiful one in subtle, graceful, technically perfect ways. (And don't be surprised if, over the next decade or so, Libatique does take home some golden bookends.)
The biggest topic on conversation here, unlike most films, is not the work of the directors. Faris and Dayton strike me as indie tourists whose work comes off as safe and sound - too hip to be sell-outs and too schooled to be inventive. The headline, of course, is Kazan, an oddly cute actress who has been on the cusp of B- or even A-level fame since 2007's Fracture. Thus far Kazan has picked - aside from Nia Vardalos' dreadful I Hate Valentine's Day - all respectable projects. And she's good here as an exaggerated fantasy character that she wrote for herself. Not great, as you'd hope an actor would be in such a situation, but good enough that the movie - which hinges on her dream girl performance - doesn't fail. But, truth be told, I can't help but daydream of Ruby Sparks with a more charming, dreamy actress like Zooey Deschanel or even Kirsten Dunst. Both have an ability to set fire to the screen in a way we've not yet seen from Kazan, who seems better off in more brooding roles, like the one she played so well in The Exploding Girl.
All complaints and shortcomings aside, Ruby Sparks is a fine film full of hearty laughs. A good time at the movies that wraps up properly and entertains in a way that's both slightly hip and widely accessible. It's probably not the "surprise hit" that the folks at Fox Searchlight designed it to be, but the movie should do well enough, giving both Kazan's and Dano's careers needed lifts into commercial hipdom. Here's to hoping that when Kazan next picks up the pen, she takes better care to flesh out the psychological depths of her characters and, ya know, disguises her influences a far better.
Read more of my music- and film-focused writing at ZeCatalist.com
Tanner Hall (2009)
Surprisingly Great - and Tastefully Stylized - Gal Drama
We, the 99.9 percent of the world that wasn't in attendance at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, have to consider the recent DVD release of Franny Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg's gal drama, Tanner Hall, the film's public debut. So, despite being a movie filmed in late 2008 and not going public until late 2011, this super stylized drama is a 2011 film, and one of the most surprisingly fulfilling watches we sat for all year.
Staffed with a cast of A-level young talent (led by Rooney Mara, Georgia King and the sizzling Brie Larson), this New England boarding school ensemble flick rolls through scenes with no clear cut story arc, instead playing through as a glimpse into the lives of a group of A-level teen girls going through the way crazy stage of puberty, full blast. Pure fire.
We see details of relationships morphing when the new girl, Victoria (King), arrives and fearlessly stomps her way into the pack or sisters. The crew's soul captain, Fernanda (Mara), is the most powerful and interesting character, and she's brought to life with grace by the Girl With the Dragon Tats herself. It's a performance that could've maybe even been considered legendary, had only Tanner Hall been treated as a major release. Mara's moves are so good that we have to assume this was the film that helped David Fincher find his new discovery.
Imagine if Sophia Coppola rewrote the Little Women script for John Hughes in the late 80s and you'll have a good idea of the haunting appeal that is Tanner Hall. As far as film art and storytelling goes, this is one of the great surprises of 2011. An incredible mix of design, writing and performance. Better late than never.
An Incredible Exercise in Style and Nuanced Storytelling
Going into the theater I knew I was in for a treat. The little bits and pieces I'd seen of the film were clearly from the brush of a highly stylized, truly eccentric filmmaker with much to offer. And it looked beautiful - the lighting, the LA scenery, the poetic stillness. Needless to say, me and my crew walked into the theater for the first screening of the day, ready for something big, fingers crossed and hopes high. One hundred minutes later we celebrated the Christmas feast we'd just taken in, Refn and Gosling's brilliance clogging the holes of our soul. We'd seen a masterpiece - a film that certainly nods here and there (John Hughes, Heat, A History of Violence), but was also wholly original and stuffed full of style and understated grace. A story told in an inventive manner, not unlike Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs over 10 years ago.
Rather than discuss the many turns and layers of Refn's crime drama, I'd like to talk about the style of the film and, eventually, the crafty storytelling textures that most likely won't pick up on. First, the brilliant style of the film
As the film's action segments play out, we see the Driver turn from a handsome shadow into a blood-soaked scorpion, striking quickly and confidently at all the right moments, taking down the danger in his way without losing his breath. He moves from person to person, conflict to conflict, each scene lit, framed and composed in a beautiful, poetic manner. The technique in this film is the stuff of legends, Refn and his crew's work standing high above that of the average modern film. If nothing else, the movie is a clinic in lighting, editing and sound design (much of the Driver's emotion is told through the cracking sound of his leather gloves - no joke). We see blood and love and cars. Villains and heroes and victims - and it's all beautifully composed. Mostly, we see Gosling's Driver, an unmarked loner who reminds a bit of the George Clooney character in last year's great The American. We see him fall in love and take care of business.
But here's where things get interesting: after the film a friend suggested a new layer. As the story plays we're led to believe that, on the surface at least, the Driver is a normal guy put into extraordinary situations - a naturally cool, calm, collected guy seemingly capable of anything, so as long as it keeps his new love (Irene) out of harm's way. That he handles these intense situations with such grace, precision and confidence seems, again, on the surface, like a dose of Hollywood fantasy. Led by a series of clues throughout the film, my movie- going pals and I figured some things out. If you've seen the film, you'll remember the following bits of information: The Driver just showed up one day, got a job with a semi- connected garage owner, and began working for peanuts; the three additional male principals (Nino, Bernie and Shannon) all share an organized crime-infused history that we're told links back to a Jersey crime family; the Driver leaves the catalyst for the tension in the film (a bag full of unmarked bills) behind with the final bloody body that stood in the way of Irene and Benicio's safety. Those details in mind, we decided that the Driver was planted in L.A. to observe Shannon and his criminal friends - whom we learn feel unappreciated by their Jersey- based bosses. Sure, the Driver was there to put in work, too, but he was more or less a skilled spy, sent by the Jersey family. When the things get messy he acts - not as a quiet man who can drive cars, but as an instinctive and trained driver with a presumed history in the muscle game. One of the shadow men who keep things moving - a deeper variation of the Jackyl character in Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.
The final scene, featuring a silent performance by Gosling, is the cherry on top. We see the just-stabbed Driver in his car, still, not moving, covered in the blood of himself and the three men who stood in his way. We sit starring at the still screen for a 30-second stretch that feels like an eternity, wondering if our hero is dead. Then, suddenly, the Driver blinks. Then starts his car. Then drives away. Probably towards Jersey. Irene and Benicio are safe; and thus the job is done. We're left sad that the believable love-at-first-sight between Irene and the Driver didn't come to fruition, but moved by the lengths our man went to in order to assure the safety of the films only two pure and innocent characters. The quick blast of love he found flipped a switch that, as movie-goers, we hope helps our man move up, on his way towards a more emotional, connected, human existence.
More at ZeCatalist.com.
The Tree of Life (2011)
Best Film I've Seen In Years
Rather than offer a standard form review of auteur/poet/man-of-mystery Terrence Malick's fifth feature film, the Palme d'Or-winning The Tree of Life, I figured I'd offer some stray thoughts on the movie. This because Malick's film pays no mind to any definable variation of standard form in the realm of filmmaking or storytelling as a whole. The film is big and wide open, poking the brain to think and remember, question and ponder in ways it often skirts around - the hard memories of youth. That, and the meaning of the universe and our existence. Thoughts No. 1: I can't imagine how a theater full of females or non-Americans - or even African Americans - will respond to Tree; but, for me (a young white male raised by a protective mother and a no **** hard-as-nails father, circumstances similar to what we see on the screen), the movie was as poignant as any I've seen - ever. Malick somehow remembers the most profound seconds of his youth - a collection of single moments that made him the man he is today. He uses his memory of those moments to create a story about a Waco, Texas family going through some serious growing pains. Dad is nature and mom is nurture, or, in Malick's case, Mom is grace. The family's three young boys (led by the eldest, Jack), struggle to find the balance between the two often opposing lessons their parents teach them. My words on your paper or computer screen can't begin to express the poignancy Malick puts into his poetic movie - into this family. Many moments in the film prompted me to remember childhood moments that I hadn't thought about since they happened 20 or more years ago. Those moments of discovery - and the painful process of trying to figure out day- to-day life as a member of an intellectual society - deepen Malick's movie, which is basically an open-ended questioning of our existence. Poignancy defined. Thought No. 2: Supposedly there are people walking our Earth who booed The Tree of Life when it premiered at Cannes a few weeks ago. To those people, I say this: Iron Man 3 will probably be out before you know it; for now, you have Thor, The Green Lantern, Wal-Mart and "American Idol." Thought No. 3: I believe this film will go down as a deserved all-time classic, as well as one of the more cerebral and visually poetic movies ever made. I can't think of a better movie about youth and the adult act of pondering it all as we look back and figure out how we came to be the people we are. Malick brilliantly juxtaposes wide-eyed children discovering the small things in life against a perplexed adult looking back on simpler and better days - even if those "better days" were as complex as any he's seen as an adult. It's a moving and profound device that any movie-goer living a conscious existence should feel deeply, even if they came up under different circumstances than Malick's O'Brien family. Great movies leave you talking and thinking - usually about one big thing that happened, one topic. Something having to do with the human experience. This movie left me thinking about so many different things, and deeply. I could go on and on about the many details, visuals and style points that I just can't shake. But, chances are, you've not yet seen it. The movie is a an existential puzzle piece of a movie that frames up the broad topics of creation, existence and self-worth (and about 20 other things) in a challenging and abstract manner that will be interpreted differently by anyone lucky enough to feast their eyes. It's a not just a new classic, but the very rare piece of art that will be obsessed over and picked apart by thinkers for generations to come. If the intellectual depths of Terrence Malick's imagination were ever in question, Tree assures that they will never be again. The best movie I've seen at the theater in years. A new all-time masterpiece. Check out more of my music- and film-related writing at ZeCatalist.com.
Super 8 (2011)
Super 8 is Great!
I'm of the belief that most people haven't yet digested just how much things have changed over the last five years. We're living in a different world than we were in 2006, one that certainly seems alien to the movie settings of classic-era Steven Spielberg films. A modern world that, aside from the look of the creature/catalyst in the film itself, is alien to the world we see in J.J. Abrams' 1970s-set film, Super 8.
Set your clock back to 1979, a simpler time, back when people moved slower, talked nicer and well cared more. Now consider these things: The Goonies; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Signs; Cloverfield; the geeks from "Freaks the Geeks"; and maybe, just maybe, a splash of Mars Attacks! and Spielberg's War of the Worlds and ET. Throw all that junk in a blender, stick it in a small town (still, remember, in 1979) and you have an idea of the style and appeal of this Abrams' new movie.
The story, as it should be, is a simple one. Basically, something really bad happens to a small town full of good people. Something impossible to understand, even for the Air Force dudes who have been working on a solution for decades. Something impossible that only the silent minds of children can translate and solve. We meet our crew of inevitable heroes - five sassy boys and one enigmatic and broken girl - as they savor their summer break working on a zombie movie they plan to enter into a film festival. They go here, they go there, they screw around, not unlike the crew of goons from Goonies or even Stand by Me. The lead boy, Joe (played by future star Joel Courtney), is the soulful son of a fearless and recently widowed deputy (played brilliantly by "Friday Night Lights" star Kyle Chandler); his best friend (the hilarious Riley Griffiths) is a brilliant old soul with big dreams and high emotions; and Joe's crush (the suddenly amazing Elle Fanning) is the stunning daughter of Joe's father's mortal enemy, a town drunk named Louis Dainard (Ron Elard). Solid set-up, right? Formulaic you say? You bet.
And sure, Super 8 is, from afar, quite formulaic. A period piece monster/alien flick set in a small town and led by a cast of incredibly lovable "tweens" - almost sounds like something a scriptwriting class would put down on paper, right? Who cares. Abrams handles each frame, each scene, each gigantic explosion and slight facial expression, with so much love, so much skill and so much studied consideration that you can't help but get sucked into his Spielberg- produced version of movie magic. As the story progresses we know that everything will eventually - after plenty of running scared, wild flames, sweet tears and epic destruction - be alright. There will be a hug and maybe a kiss. There will be heroes and connections. There will be sub plots that make us care and bad guys who only the crowd can understand in full. Super 8 is, without any doubt, a big, brawny blockbuster film that intends to touch all the bases - your head, your heart, your funny bone and, most importantly to folks like myself, the part of your soul that values strongly crafted screen art.
Without giving away too much, I'll just say this: Super 8 is the first movie I ever outwardly cheered for during the end credits. Not because it's necessarily a huge artistic achievement like, say, Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life; but because it managed to take me to another world. A world where Michael Bay isn't allowed, Spielberg is your lovable guiding light, we don't solve our problems with computers and ya know anything is possible. Movie magic. And sure, same as was the case with M. Night Shyamalan's Signs, there are plot holes of reason here and there that some NASA goofs will someday dissect. But how much has that really ever mattered at the movies? And do we, the people of 2011, have any business saying what could or should be in an alternate reality such as the one in the 70s small town of Super 8? We, the lovers of fiction, do not.
My recommendation: leave the boringly logical part of your brain at home, forget about reality television, get to the theater and escape to Steven Spielberg and J.J Abram's 1979. Super 8 is a tasty, incredibly well-made Hollywood film that demands another lap before it has even crossed home. Somehow the so- far best commercially released film of 2011is a blockbuster about aliens, "tweens" and explosions. Who'd have thunk it?
Read more of my film- and music-related writing at ZeCatalist.com!
Some Production Shortcomings But Otherwise Incredible
Like the bulk of music fans from my generation, my first impression of Bruce Springsteen was established when I was young, back when Bruce was doing the Born in the USA thing. He'd stick his underbite way out, wear skin tight jeans and headbands, stomp around on stage riffing like he was in a hair band, ride those cheesy synthlines, etc. Needless to say, I wrote the guy off before I was in high school and even figured him for some sort of idiot savant. By the time I was 20 or so I was a fan of his music, surely; but not until I saw director Thom Zimny's The Promise: The Making of the Darkness on the Edge of Town did I realize that, in his day, Bruce was as cool as anyone, and an all-around brilliant man of deep artistry.
The bulk of Zimny's film is comprised of archival footage of Bruce and The E Street Band following the worldwide success of their previous album, Born to Run. Overnight, it seemed, Bruce had become a household name. His working class background forever lingering, Bruce saw the opportunity to make something that was not just better than Born to Run, but different. Next came the notebooks, then the songs, then the rehearsals, then the recording. Then more recording. Then more writing. Eventually Bruce and his band had 70+ new songs to choose from, 10 of which ended up on his now-classic Darkness record. Thanks for Zimny's film, we get to see the whole process, mixed up with recent footage of the band reflecting on the Darkness era.
The Promise is one of the 10 best music docs I've ever seen, telling a great story that focuses on a great and brilliant leading man. The movie reminds me quite a bit of Sam Jones' film about Wilco, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, but with a much cooler focus and much cheesier production. Had the producers and director done a better job of mixing the old footage with the new (and not used every cliché doc trick in the book), this would've been a near-perfect movie. Still, though, it's a must-see for fans of rock n' roll, pop culture, songwriting or film in general.
The movie is an amazing document of a brilliant writer, music mind, band leader and thinker who was working in his artistic prime. I still can't say much for the pop star 80s version of Bruce, but damn if the struggling back alley artist of the 70s wasn't as good as they came. This film will stand as the one of the essential pieces to the Art of Bruce.
Read more of my music- and film-related writing at ZeCatalist.com.
The So-Far Best of the Mumblecore Movement
By the time the movie Chop Shop ended I wanted to move to New York and befriend writer/director Ramin Bahrani, simply because his movie was so good and made me feel so much. I thought that would be a one-of-a-kind reaction, but the moment writer/director Andrew Bujalski's third feature, Beeswax, ended, I was looking around online, trying to find his contact info.
I gave up on that quickly, instead opting to start the movie over from the beginning. If you've seen Bujalski's other works, you know what to expect: artfully told - and small - stories that feel very authentic. Beeswax, even more than his other films, feels very, very real. And while the story is simple, there's so much nuance in the performances and production style that you feel as if you've seen some grand tale unfold.
So, the story. Two twin twenty-something sisters living in the city of Austin, Texas work their way through two very different struggles. Jeannie (played by Tilly Hatcher) is an overachieving boutique clothing/thrift store owner who is worried that her business partner, Corinne (Katy O'Connor), is planning to sue her; all along she spends time with Merrill (Alex Karpovsky), her on-again love who attempts at every turn to help her through her legal woes. Jeannie's sister, Lauren (Maggie Hatcher), is kinda/sorta looking for work and, more or less, just sort of breezing through life - hanging out, getting high and just being all around socially pleasant and fun. We get the impression that Lauren's only real concern (aside from maybe money) is her need to be around for her sister, who, in addition to having problems at work, is a paraplegic young woman with much stress in her life. Both sisters are incredibly kind and soulful people who I came to love through the movie - especially Jeannie. (Also, both of the sisters are absolute knockouts who resemble Juliette Binoche, which can only be a good thing.)
I won't say too much more about the story, aside from mentioning that, at most times, you simply feel like you're hanging out with the sisters and Merrill, who, despite tense times, seem to almost always be enjoying themselves - joking and teasing each other in loving ways. The dialogue never feels too much like a movie and the story just sort of falls into place - less a framework than it is a reason to talk. All that said, Bujalski's script is wonderful, and brought to life very well by the solid, very natural cast.
I kept thinking that, at some point, I'd feel the wear of Bujalski's style-over-substance approach, as this was my experience with his other two movies (which are both worth checking out). Didn't happen. Not even close. I was very into the story of the two sisters at every moment, not so much caring about where the story was going as I was excited to see what I'd learn next about these girls and their world.
And then there's the end. Ohhhhhhh what an ending. I won't say a peep, other than that it was the very rare conclusion that had me simultaneously screaming, shouting, howling and smiling. It was, in a word, perfect. Major, major kudos to Bujalski, his crew and the Hatcher sisters. Great, great work all around; okay, time for a third viewing!
The Freebie (2010)
Superior to Hall Pass in Every Way
I'll start with the one bone I need to pick: the title of the movie, The Freebie. The name implies that the film is fun and lighthearted. Sure, at times. But, as a whole, this is a serious story that will surely be relatable to a whole lot of people. And, while I'm on the topic, I get the impression that a lot of people were misled by both the poster (which makes it look like an Jud Apatow movie) and the casting of Dax Shepard, who is mostly known for his comedic roles. Thus, I'd guess, the low score the movie has on IMDb. The unreasonably low score.
So, I'm guessing, someone along the way knew that this was a pretty great movie and thus wanted it to be one that people would see. Thus the title. Thus the poster. Thus all the wrong people seeing this movie. The Freebie is for fans of Noah Baumbach and Joe Swanberg.
What The Freebie is is naturalistic drama done right. The story is simple: a happy couple decide to "fix" their bedroom apathy by taking a single night to go out and share some bone with a stranger. Both Katie Aselton and Shepard are fantastic, both as lovers and as people going through a mighty big challenge together. Much of the dialogue in the first two acts plays through in a way that makes you wish it was your relationship - the two leads seeming so uniquely happy together at times that you get the feeling that Aselton took from her personal life for the script. Things change a bit in the third act, as they should. Things get, well, heavy.
Knowing that the writer/director, Aselton, is married to actor/writer/director Mark Duplass, I half expected the film to have a Mumblecore vibe. Not really the case. The cinematography is solid, if simple, the picture always looking big and bright and, at times, quite stylized. And sure, the writing and acting are great, but it's the combination of clever editing and the believable bond between the two leads that really make this thing work.
I don't want to give too much away. Go watch the movie ... it's streaming right now on Netflix and up for rent at your local video store. I'll be excited to see what Katie does next. I could see the coupling of this project and her role on "The League" getting her some rom-com roles alongside Paul Rudd or Seth Rogan or whoever. I hope she passes on those. I love to see a smart, talented female "make it" in any male-dominated industry. I think Katie has what it takes to have a solid career as a filmmaker, The Freebie standing as a very promising directorial debut.
The Extra Man (2010)
A Scatterbrained Review for An Odd Film
I like the book. I like the directors. I like the actors. I like the location. And, I suppose, I generally like the visual style of the film. Seeing as how there are four legit movie star-level actors in the film (not to mention the expensive shooting locations), I suppose I understand why the film had a $7 million budget ... but, really, you don't see that budget on the screen. In fact, aside from having mostly solid cinematography, this is a very simple movie that could've been made for far less.
But, like I was saying, I like the book enough that I can't call this a bad movie - even if I do understand why others might. Kevin Kline is great in what is more or less a comedy of manners, his approach reminding me more so of, say, Withnail & I than American Splendor. Paul Dano, who seems to be becoming something of a one-note actor, does his best with the flimsy adaptation, obviously doing all he can to believe in the vision of the filmmakers (a vision I suspect EVERYONE on the set secretly felt strange about at some point during the shoot).
Between this film and HBO's "Bored to Death," I'm convinced that writer Jonathan Ames has no business writing for the screen. Had someone like, I don't know, Woody Allen or Whit Stillman adapted Ames' book, I think this movie would've stood a chance. But, to me, the only thing useful about the movie is Kline's often hilarious performance. And when I say hilarious, I mean hilarious to a very small segment of viewers ... fans of Allen, Stillman, Noah Baumbach and maybe Stephen Frears.
Pretty Ugly People (2008)
REALLY bad movie. Did an adult make this?
Bums me out that loads and loads of money and work go into what is essentially no more than a blatant Todd Solondz-inspired, mean spirited comedy full of cliché characters and obvious jokes and story lines.
Wait, did I say "Todd Solondz-inspired?" Ha. How nice of me. This is a Todd Solondz rip-off. Waste of money. Waste of time. Piece of s**t. Imagine if the guys who own McDonalds attempted to rip-off Todd and you'll have a pretty good idea of how much soul this film has.
Really, though, I can't help but shed a little tear for the film US industry whenever I see a movie like this. Actual adults put their time and money into this project. Bad humor. Bad writing. Bad acting. Great resources. For every $20,000 spent on a film like this, there is a unique indie film maker out there wishing he/she could catch a break.