Hanna-Barbera's Missing Link or Distant Cousin Twice Removed
New Rule: being a Mary Kate fan, whether referencing an Olsen or otherwise, will obliterate your credibility entire; and, in my opinion, it should and often does. This film, as screened at San Jose's Cinequest Film Festival, was made to be extremely tongue-in-cheek like some live action version of Tex Avery's wild episode into schizophrenia. From the onset, the zany and flippant musical cues and stock-packaged circus sound effects should have served as a warning that any film snob within a mile radius should prepare to ship their tightly-wound behinds back home.
The film's plot -- centralizing around a mom-n-pop pizzeria gaining an advantage with a secret "oregano" over its frachised competition -- is just a mere service platter for the juvenile antics that come racing along. One device used is the comic duality behind each of the two main characters: they each play two characters, the child and respective parent, like some funkafied homage to Peter Sellers in "Doctor Strangelove" (or more accurately, Eddie Murphy in "The Nutty Professor"). Either way, Freud would be nodding in agreement. While the execution is not nearly as convoluted or as refreshing as I have described it to be, it does spark some level exuberance, an eagerness, only film students can offer. Such charm is priceless and in short supply.
Within reason, the film (budgeted primary by a group of college professors) is not well-sewn together, particularly in the predictable scenarios given to the characters and the sitcom-like roughness pushed into each of the green-magenta-neon-lit frames. But, to say it is a "waste of two hours" is flagrantly unjust for there is a sense of youthful joy, devoid of Hollywood cynicism, to be had here. Also, like some independent garage band's LP one discovers at a local record store, there is wonderment to be felt in discovering an artist's first steps. One has an inkling, call it a Cleo premonition, that two or three features down the line, these filmmakers will perfect their craft -- if you cannot find joy in that, do me a favor, take a number for the next casting of "The Grinch".
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