Description (from the DVD insert):
Gregg Henley (Ben Dietels) lives alone in his deceased Grandmother’s house. He spends his time devising strange aerobic routines, setting off fireworks in his backyard, and obsessing over Vanessa, a waitress at his favorite restaurant. Gregg’s dreams of a relationship with Vanessa become a reality when he finds her misplaced wallet and decides to return it and confess his love. With his best friend Steven O’Leary (Ryan Lintner) along for the ride, this seemingly easy task becomes a strange journey of twists and turns that’ll keep you guessing and howling with laughter up until the shocking finale.
Commentary, Trailer for MARKO FRIDAY NIGHT
Written and Directed by Ben Dietels
Man, Gregg is an unfortunate all-around loser. Gregg is a super-geeky, socially awkward, and luck-challenged kind of guy. The kind of guy that you root for because he really deserves to have something good happen for him after all of the bad, but you know in the end that’s just not going to happen. CAPTAIN SLICKPANTS is a day in the life of Gregg as he finally gets an opportunity to tell the girl he’s been obsessing over just how he feels about her when her wallet falls right into his hands. With the help of what may be his only friend, Steven, they set out on an adventure of epic-ly odd proportions to return the lost wallet to her (against Steven’s judgment, who is right to say to just take it back to the restaurant!)
I don’t want to dwell too much on the plot, because the fun of watching CS is the weird places that this sparkly blue wallet takes Gregg and Steven. You’ll just need to watch it yourself and see what happens. I will say that the strongest piece of the movie is by far the story/plot; this is a really fun ride that Dietels (and Lintner, with the story credit) has created for his characters to take. The script itself is strong overall as well; the dialogue is pretty consistently funny (though there’s not really anything I’ll be quoting to my friends at work on Monday), there are no really slow lulls, and overall CS is a well-crafted oddball adventure for two odd guys. There were even some parts that actually made me laugh out loud – that doesn’t happen too often – though overall CS kept a smirk on my face and kept me entertained.
While the dialogue was never really anything that blew me away, I was very impressed with a lot of the comedy presented in CS. Right from the beginning you are introduced to the fact that this is going to be a pretty silly flick, as we have an opening scene with Gregg arguing with a picture of his dead Grandmother. This scene really does heavy hand the exposition right out of the gate, but the comedy in which it uses to present that exposition almost makes up for it. What CS does really well is the very puerile physical comedy presented throughout. Both Gregg and Steven have a tendency to flip, roll, and crawl their way through situations that a nice tiptoe would serve much better. I thought that this would get old, but I actually found it to get funnier as CS went on, and it really cemented just how geeky and socially inept these guys really are!
While the craft of the film was very nicely done, I felt pretty much the opposite about the production quality. The video itself was decent – I’m pretty sure it was shot in HD – but it seems to have been in auto-focus, because there was no depth of field in just about any shot that I noticed. While this is not a necessity to make a good-looking movie, it really helps take your film out of the look of an amateur production. The bigger fault I had with the video was just the overall composition of the shots in general. The camera was shaky when it shouldn’t be, the images were often not framed very well (with bits and pieces cut off or what should be the center of the focus off to the side or other such issues), and overall the look of the film was just… well… kind of boring. Now, on the other hand, with a film like CS you don’t expect there to be a bunch of flash camera moves or really technical shots, but this just took it to the too-plain extreme, and again lent itself to looking amateur in its presentation. The amateur feel presented by the visuals is not helped by the lights (way too bright in much of the indoor shots that do not rely on natural lighting) and especially by the sound.
I’m 99% sure that CS was shot entirely on an on-camera mic, and there are many instances where I had to turn up the volume to understand what was being said. The sound is one of the rougher components of the film by far. In many shots it seems plainly obvious that on-camera sound is being utilized, as one character in the foreground is easy to hear and another far away is barely discernible. In addition, the only foley really to speak of in the entire film was a couple of punches, and they sounded incredibly fake. I understand as a micro-budget filmmaker that sound is tough and sound is expensive, but I also have learned the hard way that skimping on sound can kill your movie’s chances of being seen (my feature was completed in 2010 and the most common reason it has been turned down for distribution was the sound quality). On the other hand, CS has great music. The majority of the soundtrack is provided by WV garage-rock band The Demon Beat, and is utilized with great effectiveness. Dietels is very successful in the way he cuts out the music to emphasize something he is showing you on screen, or to punctuate a joke, and then drops the beat back. I really enjoyed the soundtrack to CS a lot.
Overall, CS is a great first attempt. There are some things – plot, characters, physical comedy, and soundtrack – that were done really, really well. There were other bits that drug the whole piece down. I think Dietels would do himself a great service by finding a good cinematographer, a good sound guy, and spending a bit of money (or calling in favors, however it gets done) to up the production values on the next one. CS was a really funny, smart, silly film that is just dragged down by the amateur production values presented. As this is BPO’s first feature, I expect nothing but up from here.
Overall 6.5 / 10
CS on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2123919
CS for sale: http://bpofilms.virb.com/store