Splinterheads (2009) Short Review

The last time I was surprised by a ‘quirky’ indie comedy as much as Splinterheads was by a great little movie called ‘Kabluey’. I don’t know if this is as good as that one, but as far as quirky indie comedies go, this has a pretty good script (by director Brant Sersen). The reason why I think the film succeeds probably is in the casting. This has a pretty good one as far as low budget independent film casts go, combining some talented unknowns on the way up with some familiar film veterans to create that  ‘chemistry’ thing that critics banter about when they have nothing else to say… But, it’s really true in this case.

As soon as the movie begins, youll probably know whether you’re going to love it or hate it. Personally, I loved it, the humor fits my particular funny bone.

Thomas Middleditch plays the gullible Justin Frost, low in self esteem but high on self deprecating humor. He’s NOT like Napoleon Dynamite (as other reviewers have compared him to, as well as to that movie). That would be selling him short and I hope to see Middleditch in other films. He has great comic timing and has that rare talent to be able to be a complete spaz and still be endearing.

Jason Rogel was also really funny as Wayne Chung, Justin’s friend and employer. He and Middleditch could be successful a la Pegg and Frost if they care to be.

The lovely and talented Rachael Taylor as Galaxy is more than just the love interest and a pretty face (shes downright hot, actually). She creates plenty of laughs on her own, but worked well with Middleditch as a far more intelligent love interest than normal.

Jason Mantzoukas steals several scenes as the off the wall Amazing Steve.  His below standards magic act is a pretty good one. As I said, the entire cast was great (that includes Dean  Winters, better known as the Allstate Mayhem Guy and there’s even a Lea Thompson sighting). Some of the smallest roles in the movie create some of the biggest laughs. And I even liked the soundtrack.

There’s nothing heavy here. It’s just a good entry into the independent quirky comedy genre. It has the same the same story of a lovable loser that wants to get the girl that a lot of these films have, but it is done well. Of course it has complications, including the crazy thug/redneck boyfriend played by the aforementioned Allstate Mayhem Guy.

The backdrop  that sets this apart from other indie low budget comedies is that it’s set in a traveling carnival. There’s something about carnivals and circuses… They have their own built in screen magic. Their own atmosphere.

The tone and pacing are both low key. It’s set in a small rural town. Most of the humor is in the dialogue and in the personalities of the characters. It IS a low budget film.

After seeing this, I’m going to have  to seek out more of Sersen’s films to see if they’re as good as this one. Splinterheads didn’t quite make my Top 10 Films of 2009, but it’s still a great comedy worth seeing.

4.5 of 5 


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