21 & Over and Little Miss Sunshine have had a love child!
The relatively unknown Robert Taleghany hasn’t actually directed much, with his last attempt being a short, and just before that Killing Time at Mickey’s, both released in 2001. He has taken the script, written by the star of American Idiots, Jeffrey T. Schoettlin, and done an acceptable job with it. It’s far from perfect but you need to take several facts into account, because with little experience by most of the key players, and a tiny budget, they have produced a better film than expected.
It’s a road-trip comedy that is reminiscent of three particular movies. Paul (the Alien one), 21 & Over (the crappy one) and Little Miss Sunshine (the brilliant one), with Alan Arkin’s part as the grandfather in Little Miss Sunshine, being replaced here with Nick Faltas’ Uncle Kenny. Unfortunately, the similarity ends there, because Nick Faltas’ isn’t in the same league as the immensely funny and talented Alan Arkin. Jeffrey T. Schoettlin played the main character of this road-trip flick, Wyatt Thomas, but his performance was a touch lethargic and uninspired. His writing on the other hand, was far better and genuinely witty at times, with lots of his ideas working, but quite a few not working at all.
Wyatt has just been hurt and embarrassed, thanks to girlfriend Katie, who snubbed his very public marriage proposal. While moping about in a deep depression, Wyatt learns that Katie is getting married to another guy, so is persuaded by an Elvis impersonator (what is with Elvis impersonators in low-budget movies?) to go to the ceremony and fight for her affections. The wedding is in Las Vegas; he is in Texas, and the only way to get there in time, is Uncle Kenny’s RV. On tow, are a collection of diverse, but most definitely familiar characters to hold our attention and pad out this unoriginal yet amusing script.
Admittedly, some of the characters are genuinely funny and there are some classic scenes, like the aforementioned Elvis, as Wyatt and he have an Elvis-robot-voice singing contest, but it’s the parts of the writing that don’t work that are the real problem. It isn’t a bad thing, it’s called inexperience, and every-single person in the industry starts somewhere very much inexperienced. In fact, 21 & Over could have done with some of the humor from American Idiots and might have saved them a lot of money and also saved it from being total crap. This low budget indie cost a mere $250 thousand compared to the $13 million the unfunny, unoriginal, shitty, 21 & Over cost, and it wasn’t one iota near as good as this.
I didn’t like a lot of things in American Idiots; some performances; a fair amount of the writing, but I enjoyed far more than I didn’t, making the ultra low-budget movie a success in my book. I would also repeat, this inexpensive indie is much better than 21 & Over, so if you liked that nonsense, you should have no problem finding the humor in this to your liking.
Review by Ed Blackadder, Lead Entertainment Writer