REVIEW: American Storage [2006]

Score: 7/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 13 minutes | Release Date: 2006 (USA)
Studio: Wholphin DVD
Director(s): Andrew Jay Cohen
Writer(s): Brendan O’Brien / Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O’Brien (story)

“I maintain it myself”

It’s good to have friends in high places, but it’s better to have the chops to warrant their help. This is the life of Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, production assistants on Anchorman and The 40 Year Old Virgin respectively who used their relationship with Judd Apatow and his troupe of actors to film a short. Using all their money and a three-day shooting schedule, American Storage was born as a witty little comedy about a grown man so temperamental and anxious about the outside world that he lives in a storage facility and the property’s employee who catches him.

Both Charlie (Martin Starr) and Kurt (David Krumholtz)—employee and squatter—are afraid of adulthood. The former is an introvert who can’t work up the courage to stand up for himself against boss Rich (Steve Carell) or ask out co-worker Nikki (Maya Goldsmith) on a date. The latter can’t control his anger or the myriad troubles fate may throw his way in the real world so he remains a hermit living on the cheap. They’re both scared of change; happy to skate along on the lives they’ve set up for themselves devoid of adventure or the unknown. Deciding to throw caution to the wind one night, Kurt cajoles Charlie into opening a stranger’s unit and their unlikely duo have real fun for the first time in a long time.

The film is an exercise of economy from behind the scenes budgetary constraints (they were hassled by the authorities for shooting without a permit at one point) and the script itself. The characters are for all intents and purposes stereotyped clichés so that we can understand their motivations without needing hours of exposition. Rich is a tool and Maya intimidating on the surface for a nerd like Charlie but a true friend underneath. Kurt is a child in a man’s body who shirks responsibility and uses his charisma to get through life and Charlie is the “good guy” who’s on the cusp of breaking the mold—a trip to San Luis Obispo serving as the catalyst to get out of Dodge literally and figuratively.

With a fun montage of Starr and Krumholtz dicking around random storage units (playing the drums, running into each other with hockey and football equipment, or chilling to a vinyl record) and the concept of living in a temperature controlled $64.13 a month abode, there’s a lot to laugh about. You may not find yourself caught in a loud guffaw, but that doesn’t mean the comedy won’t hit home. Kurt and Charlie are both relatable as two halves of most people’s whole. We all have fears and anxieties whether shy or gregarious; we all need that push to move forward and be who we want to be no matter the consequences. And as Aerosmith‘s “Sweet Emotion” crescendos we see just how invigorating it is to possess that freedom of choice.

American Storage is available on Issue #2 of Wholphin DVD.

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