(director/writer: John Carlucci, Brandon LaGanke; screenwriter:Chris Molinaro; cinematographer: Luke McCoubrey; editor: Taylor Levy; music: Jimmy Stofer, Alan Wilkis, Nathaniel Eras; cast: Charlie Tahan (Michael), Kara Hayward (Kat), Zach Cherry (Josh), Sarah Mezzanotte (Amy), Sydney Farley (Tara), Tonatiuh (Justin), Amber Anne (bus passenger), Dave Hill (Devo Ted), Martin Pfefferkorn (FU Bob), Pineapple Tangaroa (Pineapple, security guard), Frank Iero (Hank Hero), Jay Devore (Todd), Will Forte (Fred); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Eric Hollenbeck, Steven Ilous, Grant Fitch; Hollenbeck Film/a FilmRise release; 2020)

In its deeper moments it’s a film about finding yourself.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

First-time co-directors John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke film this quirky and dark coming-of-age comedy by loading it up with goofy characters and a goofy humor. In its deeper moments it’s a film about finding yourself. The directors wrote the story together and collaborate on the screenplay with Chris Molinaro.

The film tags along with the aimless and awkward virgin Michael (Charlie Tahan), who is in a rut. He graduated from college four years ago and his long-time girlfriend, Amy (Sarah Mezzanotte), dumped him 2 years ago to live the hip life in NYC. He has not found a career he wants to pursue. So while trying to figure things out Michael earns some money for expenses by taking a job as a late-night bus driver on a college campus (at the Kent Institute of Technology in Ohio– filmed in an upstate NY small town).

His boss (Will Forte, not seen on camera) is so endeared to him, he calls him “Fuckchop.”

The reason for the title (in my opinion a poor choice because it gives a false impression of the story) is that the shuttle bus picks up lots of drunks late at night.

When the vulnerable Michael is assaulted one night (receiving a black-eye)  by a disruptive passenger, the bus company dispatcher provides him protection with a security man, the gigantic Samaoan, the facially tribal tattooed and full body pierced Pineapple (Pineapple Tangaroa, a Samaoan tattoo artist living in Austin, who never acted before). The easy going punk rocker, Pineapple, a loose cannon with a checkered past, mentors the younger man and helps him become more aware of himself. Their relationship is an odd couple one and is the crux of the film. The giant protector offers such words of wisdom as “Don’t do anything stupid. Or you know what? Do something stupid. I don’t give a fuck.”

Michael’s regular riders include: Dave Hill’s stoner Devo (Pineapple’s weed dealer), the romantically inclined art student rejected by the love-lorn Michael, Kat (Kara Hayward),  the gay student Justin (Tonatiuh) and the strange foul-mouthed character called Fuck You Bob (Martin Pfefferkorn), who lives in an abandoned factory. The support cast adds comic relief to the small budget indie, that’s filled with charm.

For creating the story, filmmaker Brandon LaGanke drew on his own experiences as a college bus driver and his friendship with the real Pineapple Tangaroa.

      2020: DRUNK BUS

REVIEWED ON 5/23/2021  GRADE: B-