Sunday 4 August 2013

Escape from Zany's Baking Company (2013)

Director: Shawn Esplin
Stars: Teri Frost, Dipak Panchal and Adam Anderberg
This film was a submission to one of the IFP Phoenix film challenges in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 submissions.
If they didn't provide a great film, Studio Gaijin did at least provide a great opener for this year's IFP Beat the Clock challenge. This is about as quintessentially Arizonan as it gets: a local film made by a local production company about a local restaurant and its owners. Well, let's just say 'inspired by', as every name here is changed to protect the guilty and to avoid a lawsuit on the grounds of fair use and in the holy name of parody. This clearly isn't about Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, a restaurant which provided a legendary pair of episodes for Gordon Ramsey's reality show, Kitchen Nightmares. We're not watching Amy and Sami, the certifiable owners whose epic on screen meltdowns inspired a set of internet memes. We're here to see the entirely fictional characters, Zany and Hammy, who run the utterly unrelated Zany's Baking Company. The unavoidable catch is that parody tends to work by exaggerating reality and trying to parody a parody is a difficult task indeed.

The script by Andrew Keil would be best described as crude, over the top and horribly structured, if it wasn't so accurate. That highlights the other obvious flaw, that to effectively parody an hour and a half of reality TV and the subsequent insanity that followed it, all in under five minutes, is impossible. Keil and director Shawn Esplin give it a fair shot, but it's quickly obvious that the jokes require passing familiarity with the original material on the part of the viewer; without that, a lot of them will fall flat. With the script hampered by reality (pun not intended), it has to ratchet it up a notch and it does do that, though the outrageous acts that Zany and Hammy end up committing would be easily believed of Amy and Sami too. Teri Frost, who co-produced, is great fun as Zany, as egocentric as Amy but not as self deluding. Dipak Panchal is quietly hilarious as Hammy, but it's the dialogue that sells both of them the most. Hardly essential, this is still good fun and a great way to kick off a competition.

1 comment:

Andrew Keil said...

This is Andrew Keil, writer/director of photography for "Escape from Zany's Baking Company." Thanks for the review Hal - I was a bit worried about the familiarity with the show (and parodying what is, essentially, already a parody), but I couldn't pass up the ridiculous premise!

Also, I think I'm going to put: "The script by Andrew Keil would be best described as crude, over the top and horribly structured, if it wasn't so accurate," on my business cards! Credited, of course.