Drop Box (2006)

Description (from dropboxthemovie.com):
DROP BOX is a comedy about a spoiled pop princess who accidentally returns her sex tape to a local video store, then must try everything to get it back from an uncooperative clerk.  Fearing that if she fails, her next big hit won’t be musical.

Major Cast:
David Cormican as Tom, Rachel Sehl as Mindy, Cyprianos Carasoulous as Billy, Bob Omerod as Frank, Neil Whitely as Paul

Special Features:
None (Screener)

Written and Directed by Anesty Carasoulous & Spiros Carasoulous

As a former video store clerk (and later, manager) and an indie filmmaker, I thought I’d probably like DROP BOX.  As a filmmaker, I had thought many times about how I’d love to make a movie set in my store, how there would be so much opportunity in that set up, and if there was some good plot I could figure out to get a movie to take place there, how I would totally do it. Anesty & Spiros Carasoulous figured out an idea that can get a movie into the store: someone returned their sex tape and the clerk won’t give it back.  I thought I’d like this movie… no, more accurately: I wanted to like this movie.  My feeling as the movie ended?  Meh.  By “meh” I mean, nothing.  No real reaction at all.  I did not hate DROP BOX, but I certainly did not like it either.

From the beginning I had a hard time believing the film.  I understand the notion of “suspension of disbelief,” and if we’re talking about a superhero flick, or a supernatural horror, or even a silly campy-comedy, then sure, I’m down with that notion.  DROP BOX is a non-campy, dialogue-driven comedy, and under those circumstances, there should be no suspension required.  However, DROP BOX asks me to accept that a pop star that has sold “fifty million albums” has a.) rented GLITTER, b.) rented GLITTER on VHS, c.) rented GLITTER on VHS from a local video store and d.) accidentally returned her sex tape in place of said rented copy of GLITTER, and when attempting to retrieve it from aforementioned local video store, this pop star does not arrive with a lawyer, or an entourage, or even a single burly bodyguard.  That’s a tough set up to swallow.

Even harder to swallow is the fact that the clerk feels that it is his place – almost his duty, it seems – to teach this pop star about how she shouldn’t make others feel bad.  In the real world, if any pop star were to do something similar, they would march into the store the next day with a lawyer with litigation papers pre-drawn, as well as a herd of ginourmous scary security people, ready to break what needs to be broken in order to get back the tape.  Or at least, I would assume… that would be more believable than a rich, famous, and powerful celebrity hanging out all day (when she should be on a video shoot), pleading and dealing with a clerk at the local mom’n’pop video store.

Beyond the complications of the horse pill of a plot, DROP BOX really just did not do a lot for me.  Tom, the clerk, felt like a less offensive and much less likeable version of CLERKS’ Randall, and Mindy, the pop star, was just a bitch.  Which she is supposed to be, according to the dialogue, but she never really redeemed herself as a character.  I never felt any emotional connection to either of the characters, and as such I really just didn’t care what happened to them.  At all.  Some of the minor characters were much more interesting (like Frank, the dirty old man, and Billy, the adolescent shoplifter / attempted porn watcher), and I wished they had more screen time.  The two characters that were on screen 95% of the movie failed to make me feel, well, anything; by the end (really, the middle) of the flick I felt that Tom was an arrogant, annoying prick, and Mindy was an arrogant, annoying bitch.  Not the most endearing of people to set an entire film around.

I did admire the fact that DROP BOX set its self up to be able to be a low-budget film.  The entire film takes place in (or in front of) one location, has only 2 major and a few recurring characters, and requires no effects, no stunts, really: no money.  Which is great.  One of the biggest pitfalls in making a low-budget film can be setting your aim higher than your budget allows. DROP BOX was created to accommodate a low budget.

Technically the movie is sound as well.  The lighting is above average, the sound quality is really good, the camera is well placed (gotta love the boobie shot, from the point of view of the boobies), and over all the movie was well crafted.  The acting is not of the “your friends and neighbors” level, but it is not quite to the “professional” level either, I would say it is somewhere right around community theater for most characters, it little bit better for a few others.

The place DROP BOX falls flat is not in how it was made (often a problem with low-budget fare), but in the characters and what they have to say.  While the movie is funny, it is not overly so; while I smiled more than a couple of times, I never once laughed out loud.  With the dialogue-driven comedy, the dialogue needs to be witty, hilarious, and repeatable.  The dialogue needs to lodge itself in your mind, where it sits and waits for that opportunity to be called forth in a random conversation so your friends can say “what the hell was that?” and you can answer, smugly, “that was a line from this awesome indie movie I saw” and impress them with how much cooler you are then them, by fact that you’ve seen (and regurgitated at the perfect time) this very cool movie they haven’t seen. DROP BOX did not have that.  Actually, there was not one line that comes to mind as something that could pass in the above situation.

Another thing that really bugged me: DROP BOX did not, at all, take advantage of the fact that it was in a video store.  Setting a movie in a video store gives the film geek auteur free reign to drop as many film references and opinions as possible.  If I had made a movie in my store, I like to believe that the film would have been chock full of nods to the movies I like and digs at the movies I don’t. DROP BOX has a few digs (the “Employee Recommendations” wall, for example), but there were nearly no nods.  Sure, THE BOONDOCK SAINTS was listed as a good film… but it was literally Tom telling a customer that THE BOONDOCK SAINTS is a good film.  There was no drop of “symbology” or “shut up you fucking fruit and pour the drink” or some such subtle nod, it was one character telling another that this is a good movie and they should watch it.  It was Tom telling Mindy that BACK TO THE FUTURE was a good movie, instead of (insert any one of a thousand witty BACK TO THE FUTURE references here).  It just felt like a waste of a setting for any self-respecting film geek.  And maybe the Carasoulous’ aren’t film geeks, maybe, but then: why make a low-budget, independent film?  This isn’t an endeavor that many embark on for the fortune involved, as usually you spend a lot more then you get back, unless you are incredibly lucky.  I don’t get it.

Overall, I really felt “meh” about the whole film. DROP BOX was not a bad movie – in fact, it was reasonably well made – the problem was that DROP BOX was not a good movie either.  It was an attempt to capitalize on a situation – according to the press kit, a relative owned the video store – and that situational comedy just didn’t do anything for me.  I felt the film was a lot more “miss” than “hit,” and I really wanted it to hit.

Overall 4.5 / 10

DROP BOX on the IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0929746/

DROP BOX for sale: http://www.dropboxthemovie.com/

DROP BOX site: http://www.dropboxthemovie.com/

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