Frankie in Blunderland (2011)

Description (from the Press Kit):
A dark comedic drama, Frankie in Blunderland tells the story of Frank Bellini played by Aramis Sartorio (also known as adult film star Tommy Pistol). Frank’s life is a mess. His wife Katie hates him and his best friend Tommy Spioch who asked to crash on Frankie’s couch two years ago never left. After two possibly accidental homicides, two kidnappings and a visit from a talking butterfly Frankie’s world is turned upside down as he drifts and searches for his wife. He encounters a band of Misfits along the way including an Alien Mormon, a Mystic Hobo, Robots and a beautiful Spider.

Main Cast:
Aramis Sartorio as Frankie, Thea Martin as Kate, Brett Hundley as Tommy Spioch, John Karyus as Freddy the Holy Hobo, John Christopher Morton as Human Mormon, David Reynolds as Gary Swaindritch

Special Features:
None (Screener)

Written by Marta Estirado
Directed by Caleb Emerson

FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND is one weird acid-trip of a movie.  There are SO MANY things in this flick that I have never – ever – seen before in any film.  Like what, you ask?  How about: a human butterfly with a giant cock, or a glowing space-alien Mormon missionary eating plutonium, or a puppet-kid begging for affection while being beaten senseless, just as a few examples.  There’s more, much more, and I’m not going to ruin all of the surprises for you.

FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND is a story of a man (Frankie) who kind-of loves his cold bitch of a wife, kind-of hates his semi-roommate, and has to try and save her from him when the roommate (of sorts, he’s just been crashing in their house for the last two years) decides to kidnap the wife.  Sort of… well, that’s the basic “plot” but there is so, so, SO much weird shit going on in the interim that this is just scratching the surface of what goes on in FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND.

I was fortunate to be able to review Caleb’s last feature, the über-campy DIE YOU ZOMBIE BASTARDS!, which is still one of my favorite comedies of all time.  That one was weird, in a funny, campy way; FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND is just straight up WEIRD.  Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed watching this flick, even though I often found myself asking “what the hell is going on NOW?”  After DYZB! I was expecting a weird and funny flick… and with FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND I got a weird and funny flick, but not at all what I was expecting.

This film is so hard to categorize; it’s funny but not really a comedy, it’s got seriousness but certainly not a drama, it’s got some violence but it’s no where near being a horror flick.  IMDB lists it as a “Fantasy” and I guess that moniker is as appropriate as any other,  though I would go a bit further to say it is a Psychedelic Fantasy.  Other than some alcohol and some pot there is no drug use in FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND, but the flick its self is trippy as all get out.  From the incredibly weird situations, to the incredibly weird characters, to the disjointedness/coherence of the narrative (some times it’s jumping around all over the place, other times things flow directly from once scene to the next), to the visual style, this film makes me think of something that Timothy Leary would have enjoyed, had it been made 40 years earlier.

On the technical side, FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND is a very well made low-budget flick.  The video quality is very reminiscent of film, often times having a grainy aspect that is subtle enough to feel like it was shot on film without being pronounced enough to seem like another “Grindhouse” wannabe.  The audio quality is very impressive; this is an aspect that many low-budget films skimp on, but FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND has good quality dialogue, background sound, and music.  Plus, the music feels like a real “score” more than the “background music” that many low-budget films sport.  The video effects are fun, they are often not realistic, but obviously so.  What I mean is that no one really believes that Frankie set him self on fire in the hotel room, but that’s fine because you aren’t supposed to believe it – the effects are not there to create a emotional reaction (like fear in a horror movie), but to add to the psychedelic swing of the film.

The writing in FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND was also a high point of the film.  The dialogue is witty, and the exchanges are delivered well by all involved.  While the weirdness abounds plot-wise, the dialogue is fun and has some memorable moments.  “I’m looking for my wife, she has long hair… and a face.”  “Don’t you make a rhyme out of my pain.”  There are others, but these were a few I especially liked.  Also, the writing is tight in the fact that most everything that is mentioned at some point comes back full-circle; a character mentions he can read maps, and later the Human Mormon needs a map reader, Frankie breaks his favorite mug and coffee pot, and later is told to go home and make some coffee… but he can’t ‘cause he broke his coffee pot.  In many low-budget films, there is a lot of “throwaway” dialogue and/or situations, but in FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND it’s all there for a reason.

Overall, I enjoyed FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND.  I enjoyed the quality of the film, I enjoyed the quality of the directing and acting, and I enjoyed the quality of the weirdness presented.  It was not at all what I was expecting, and that went a long way to why I liked it so much!  I will watch this movie again in the not-too-distant future, and I think there will be a lot more that makes sense on that viewing; it felt like there was a lot more going on than just what was on the surface.  Caleb has shown (twice now!) that he is a very talented filmmaker, and I can not wait to see what is down the road for him.  He is one of the Troma alumni who doesn’t need to make Troma-esque films, and that is a strength in his filmmaking.

Overall 8 / 10

FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND on the IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1815707/

FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND is not for sale yet.

FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND site: http://www.frankieinblunderland.com

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