Sunday 15 September 2013

It's All Relative (2013)

Director: Sarah Woodward
Stars: Corina Smith, Dennis Frederick, Jackie Rich, David Flores, Rick Grove and Eric Storie
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.
The final film screened in this year's marathon IFP Beat the Clock challenge for 48 hour films at the Phoenix Art Museum was a memorable way to end the evening. It certainly had the most appropriate title, a neat double meaning, that explores how everyone's relations are embarrassing when bringing home a partner. The cast clearly had a blast shooting this and I wonder if the picture's ineligibility for competition came about because they were laughing so much they had to do multiple takes. It would make for a good story, even if it isn't true. It's phrased as a joke, with a minute to set it up and four to improvise the punchline. That first minute is black and white, as Anna tries to persuade her boyfriend Petey that meeting his parents isn't going to be the nightmare he thinks it will be. 'My family's nuts,' he tells her. 'I always fall back into their crap.' He's right too, but that's how we get our film, a neatly twisted extrapolation to deliberately ludicrous degrees of a reality all too commonplace.

Director Sarah Woodward and her wonderfully named team of Untrained Slackers, clearly had a blast shooting this, which perhaps explains why it's a little out of control. While it keeps threatening to go hog wild into hallucinogenic territory and thus be told even more from Anna's perspective, it doesn't ever let itself. Instead it relies on a set of delightfully expressive performances from the actors tasked to put on face paint and extras and act like animals. Jackie Rich is most notable as Petey's rabbit of a mother, Mrs Warren, but Eric Storie steals the show when he wanders in as Tony, a haughty cat who waltzes in and out again precisely like one of my cats does so often. The dialogue they're given isn't bad at all, especially all the comments about how small Anna's hips are, but frankly the actors go far beyond that here. Watch their outrageous routines, then remember back to when you first met your partner's parents for the first time and realise how accurate this parody really is.

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