Description (from the DVD case):
TARA (Samantha Steinmetz) and ANGIE (Christina Shipp) take some “goofy pills” to escape boredom of small town life for a few hours. BRIAN (Jared Stern) is stuck baby-sitting them until they come down from their righteous high. Comedic mayhem ensues.
Written and Directed by Mark Lewis
WILD GIRL WALTZ is one of those movies that I have a hard time really putting my finger on. What’s the plot? Well, there really isn’t one. There’s no real central conflict moving the heroes through a journey in which they grow and are tested and either come out successful or not. There’s not that normal “here’s what we’ve got to do” type of situation. It’s pretty much what the description above says: two girls take some pills and trip out for an afternoon and their friend takes care of them. Does that mean that WGW is a bad movie? No, not at all. It’s just not your average plot structure in any way.
WGW opens with what could be the closet thing to setting up a conflict the movie has: Angie, minding her own business, is randomly assaulted while walking down a country road… by a flying pink milkshake. This sets up our events, as Tara rescues her from her sticky situation, and then offers to cheer her up with random pharmaceuticals from someone she barely knows. This seems like a really bad idea to me (a. taking drugs from someone you don’t know well and b. taking something when you don’t know what you are taking) but obviously these girls are wild. So while they are at home by themselves, they pop the non-descript white pills and start their trip. Angie obviously gets something in the psychedelic arena, while Tara’s pills is more of the ecstasy based brand. As it says in the description, comedic mayhem ensues.
There are both pros and cons to be said for WGW. On the positive side, I have to start with the script. Lewis has crafted a really funny, intelligent script full of witty, quick dialogue that rolls off the tongue in a very natural way. Sometimes when you have a witty “talkie” script, it’s way TOO witty, too quick, and it ends up making the characters come of as more like caricatures. WGW does not cross that line; these are funny people, but they seem like funny PEOPLE, and are not saying stuff so incredibly eloquent or over the top as to make them too fake. In that script (though there really was little to no plot, but that’s ok) Lewis also has built a fun set of funny occurrences that keep the laughs coming, as well as a nice three-way dynamic between the lead characters that keeps any one of them from seeming like the third wheel of the movie. He’s got both funny dialogue and a good handle on physical comedy, so whether your funny bone is tickled by a turn of phrase or a kick in the nuts, you should get a chuckle out of WGW. Lewis also did a fine job with directing his actors, and gets a very good performance out of all three of his leads, though there was a standout. I loved Angie. Shipp’s performance was great: awesome comedic timing, good delivery, nice physical comedy, spot-on facial expressions, she all around had this comedy stuff nailed. Again, that’s not to say that Steinmetz and Stern weren’t good as well – they were – they just were a bit overshadowed in their performances by just how damned good Shipp was.
There were also a few flaws that WGW has to deal with. I don’t consider the plot issue a fault; it doesn’t stop the story from moving along, it just moves it in a different way. The issues I had with WGW were more on the production side of things. First off, I received a Blu-Ray to review, and it really looked like a DVD. I did not get that crisp video or depth of focus that I would expect from a true HD production, and I wonder if it was shot all with autofocus? The use of autofocus makes a movie a much easier undertaking when you are a one-man video crew, and I don’t fault anyone for using it out of necessity, but unfortunately it pretty much kills that depth of focus that I expect to see in an HD production. Most of WGW was shot outdoors, and that’s a good thing because the few indoor shots had some very harsh lighting issues that also detracted from that production quality. I also think the editing could have been tightened up a bit… there are sections of just driving and long periods of nothing that could be trimmed to make WGW move faster and run funnier. Especially in a movie that is devoid a central conflict to keep the viewer locked in, you need to make it snappy, and things like having a really long opening credit sequence that seems to function only as a placeholder for the country song that is playing, or a having a subplot that functions very little to the central story (the dude that owes Brian money) does not help this situation. My last little peeve with the movie was the sound; overall it was certainly decent and never so bad to be a deterrent from my enjoyment of the film, but it did seem to be pretty obviously on-camera sound which has it’s limitations. As things get far away it’s hard to hear, and there were a few softer-spoken minor actors that I had a bit harder time with.
Overall, I really enjoyed WGW. It’s been a while since I movie I reviewed literally made me laugh out loud, and WGW did that on a few occasions, while keeping a goofy grin firmly in place on my face for most of the rest of the movie. The characters are well developed, and there are a few genuinely sweet and touching moments in the film. It is really well written and very nicely performed by all of the primary actors, and the secondary actors were not too shabby either. It could use a bit of an upgrade on the production side of things, but that does not take away from the fact that this is a solidly funny film and I really enjoyed watching it.
Overall 7 / 10
WGW on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2375232/
WGW is not for sale.
WGW site: http://www.wildgirlwaltz.com/