“My grandmother doesn’t let me out of the house without coupons”
If quirky indie had a handbook, Moon Point would be a film ripped from its pages. Beginning with a handmade credit sequence of cardboard Valentine’s cards with names of the cast and crew a la Napoleon Dynamite‘s geek chic, you know what to expect very early on. And when the opening line deals with the crass recollection of childbirth as though the funniest subject on Earth, perverted ice cream truck drivers, homicidal karaoke contest winners, and the weirdest innkeeper this side of Psycho feel right at home. Screenwriter Robert Lazar has definitely outdone himself as far as over-the-top situations for his young trio of stars, but the sheer absurdity unfortunately keeps you at arm’s length from the cutely endearing tale of love and friendship at its center.
Focusing on Darryl Strozka (Nick McKinlay)—a kid who underachieves as though it’s his job—the film throws us into his overt indifference towards ambition while those surrounding him scream to learn he has at least one goal in life. Constantly berated for being single, unemployed, and still living at home by his soon-to-be wed cousin and mother amongst others, Darryl would love nothing more than to shut them up by bringing the love of his life from age eleven to the ceremony. Conveniently back in town to shoot her first staring role in a low budget horror flick, Sarah Cherry’s (Kristen Gutoskie) former child TV host becomes the catalyst to finally let Darryl set his sights on something without quitting before getting started. He missed out on giving her a Valentine ten years ago and wasn’t about to come up short again.
So, along with his paraplegic best friend Femur (Kyle Mac), the two hitch a wagon to the back of a riding lawn mower and set off on an insane adventure that surprisingly doesn’t appear too out of the ordinary to them. With three and a half days to get on set and back Sarah for the wedding, they soon add a third in Kristin’s (Paula Brancati) stranded, quick-wit from the side of the road. And while they say it’s all about finding the girl, we know each is running from something: Femur his past and future, Kristin an unfaithful boyfriend, and Darryl the prospect of growing up. With only each other to annoy, betray, lie to, cheat, and steal from, they find a strong enough bond to overcome the worst. Yes, Darryl uses his crippled friend so profusely that a slap in the face and eventual forgiveness don’t quite even the score.
Director Sean Cisterna infuses animation at times and lets a soundtrack of indie tunes—including the fantastic “The Girl” by City & Colour—liven things up. Mostly appearing tacked on, the cartoons never quite represent the whimsy they should they exist in a nightmarish world of weirdoes and psychopaths with the occasional smartly written quip added in. Lazar’s script goes from lame to insane to genuinely funny to lame again in minutes, repeating the cycle throughout to show glimpses of genius and the hipster aesthetic’s penchant for being too cute. Ninja Girl (Brianna Daguanno) is adorably precocious one second while Christian Potenza‘s nicely backwoods eccentric finds himself overstaying his welcome when humor makes way for the blackly uncomfortable. Actions escalate from zero to fifteen on a ten-point scale without warning and the result can often be tiring.
Despite the bi-polar shifts within the comedy spectrum, however, some characters do excel. James Hartnett plays cousin Lars brilliantly with huge ego and bottomless sleaze; Art Hindle nails a recovering alcoholic in a banana suit readying for a kegger; and bits parts like an Indian karaoke DJ and the aforementioned psychopath innkeeper (Matt Hopkins) work in their deadpan quest for laughs. New characters enter and exit continuously while good or bad plays second fiddle to the fact they will make you smile solely for being creepy, uncompromising, and utterly random. This shouldn’t be surprising, though, since the film itself is random, but I do wonder what could have been if the story was punched up a bit and the extraneous baggage of stale jokes were removed.
For the most part, the leads do remain engaging enough to carry the film despite its shortcomings. McKinlay sounds like Jesse Eisenberg, playing a role catered to the Martin Starrs of the world; Brancati does her best Kat Dennings impression; and Mac legitimately steals the show with a wide range of emotions and the only relevant plot thread of the bunch. The jokes that succeed do so within the context of the script and not necessarily because the actor does anything special—except for Mac. Grabbing hold of his character’s sheltered and tragic life, it’s only when his Femur is allowed to let loose that the role truly excels. Watching him take the microphone during a karaoke session or putting the AA members dressed with food themed costumes in their place by a well-placed tear shows he has the talent to move forward. As for the others, many will shine despite the whole leaving something to be desired.
courtesy of film’s website: www.moonpointmovie.com