Special Report By Monica Sullivan
Funniest of the films I've seen so far at San Francisco's Indie Fest for 2002 is "To Protect & Serve" starring Ben Murphy & Lee Corbin as Officers Friendly & Holloway. Directed by Joseph Perez in October 1999, "To Protect & Serve" is wrapped in the same security blanket we all shared in the Good Times prior to 9/11/01. When we feel safe, the satire tends to be wilder, with fewer, if any, boundaries. Murphy, a veteran of eight television series between 1968 & 1985 (including "The Name Of The Game," "Alias Smith & Jones" & "Gemini Man"), is excellent as the uptight long-time cop, who's been on the boil since infancy. Lee Corbin, a guest star on shows like "Titus," "Becker" & "The X-Files," is the surprise in the picture, a genuine comedy talent, complete with an adoring cat named Carl & a Hugs For Thugs program he believes will make the world a better place. Holloway has dreams beyond the LAPD, like creating a cook book & opening a Tacos For Two with a pretty young mother he hopes to marry. Friendly & Holloway are followed by a young "documentary filmmaker" (Jake Wall), who risks life & limb to reveal how cops live, work, love, etc. To best appreciate "To Protect & Serve," you have to leave the Scary New World behind, but even with no expectations, I was howling on the floor through most of this one. Look for the late Matthew Ansara as a character named Charlie & "White Shadows'" Larry Flash Jenkins as an engineer.
"It's All About You" by Mark Fauser is also billed as a comedy, with cameos by Dom De Luise & Robert Morse. John D'Aquino, formerly of "Seaquest Dsv" IS Johnny Boscoe, whose superstar career is sidelined in a men's room by Mark & Madeleine, two nuts played by the director & Suzanne McKenney. They are both obnoxious pests, but their compromising snapshot of John proves to be their ticket to the bigtime. Gigi Rice, who's been in no less than four small screen situation comedies, is Johnny's girlfriend & Kim Chase is Johnny's agent. "It's All About You" played for a year at the Tamarind Theatre in Los Angeles & perhaps everyone's trying too hard to make the movie version seem 1ike more of a wacky amusement than it really is.
"Living In Missouri," A Comedy of Manners, is Shaun Peterson's in-depth view of Ryan & Todd, two "Star Wars" geeks played by Connor Ratliff & Ian McConnel. Ryan lives with his wife Amy & two kids, Todd lives with his parents, but they've been going to the movies together since they were twelve, so why change their routines now that they're adults with crummy small town jobs? Especially since Amy knows nothing about "Star Wars." Not so secretly, Todd wishes he could be with Amy & Ryan doesn't appreciate her at all. It goes on like that for 88m.
Film Threat Magazine says that "If the spaghetti Western had been invented in 2001, it would look a lot like 'The Journeyman.'" As it is, James Crowley's film looks, sounds & feels like a retread. Once Sergio Leone startled us all by showing kindly blue-eyed Henry Fonda as a vicious thug who deliberately guns down a freckle-faced tyke in 1968's "Once Upon A Time In The West," no one would ever be surprised by a 21st century flick that echoes the same material with very few variations. Willie Nelson is in this one, briefly, plus character actors Barry Corbin & Burton Gilliam & relative newcomers Brad Hunt, Daniel Lapaine & Dash Mihok.
As for "Ever Since The World Ended," you can see 1958's "On The Beach" & cry or 1960's "The Last Woman On Earth" & laugh OR you can watch the stiff performances & hear the uniform phrasing in Calum L. Grant's & Joshua Atesh Litle's opening night film at the Castro Theatre. Except for 186 survivors, San Francisco has lost its entire population to a plague a dozen years before the film begins. At least that's what we're told, but nothing in the direction of a painfully inadequate cast gives us a clue. Everyone reacts to this catastrophe as if the mall just closed five minutes ago, which hardly makes for the most riveting 78 minutes you're ever going to experience. Most often with concept-driven indie flicks, the basic idea is fine. It is lack of imagination, not lack of funds, that flaws their execution. If you can't have massive special effects, at least show how & why a story means so much to you that you're willing to buck the big studios to share it with audiences. The SF Indie Fest plays through Sunday February 10th.
© 2001 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 1/30/02
"Movie Magazine International" Movie Review Index
"Movie Magazine International" Home Page