(director/writer/editor: Jonathan Friedman; screenwriter: Matthew Friedman; cinematographer: John McClung; music: Matthew Friedman; cast: L. Derek Leonidoff (Ron Fervent), Terry Jernigan (John), Katherine Poirier (Devorah), Justin Mykael (Leonardo Di Caprio), Kristin Mykael (Francesca Di Caprio); Runtime: 102; Marjoram Production; 2002)
“If I found the story funny, I would forgive a lot of the film’s tiresome derivative scenes.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
“Moving” has not so far been granted a film release, but has been in three film festivals. I watched it on video. It’s a lightweight spoof that relies on a ridiculous situation to make the hero into a constant victim and draws from his misfortunes to get its laughs. “Moving” is a road movie that wants to be cuddly. There are many sight gags and the humor is predicated on reaction shots of how the protagonist takes all the unjust woes that fall on his lap. Buster Keaton became a comic icon using such material and the Coen brothers made their absurd situations into comedy classics; but the Friedman brothers, director/writer/editor Jonathan and writer Matthew, are still searching for how to put their own identity stamp on such comedy. This lowbrow comedy is more in the spirit of an Adam Sandler vehicle, but a poor uncle version and one without a comedian of Sandler’s talent and range to overcome the limited script.
The plot relies on an absurd situation, where aspiring writer Ron Fervent (Leonidoff) arrives by taxi to find his house has been stolen. He receives no sympathy when he reports it to a simpleton cop. At his insurance office to file a claim, he’s accused of filing two claims on the same property and of already collecting $136,000 on one claim. Now wanted by the police for insurance fraud he goes on the run with his best friend John (Jernigan) who is also an aspiring writer, as John foolishly believes the police are after him because he’s involved in a ‘mutant breeding program.’
On the road Ron suffers further misfortunes as his steering wheel is stolen, then his car is crushed and towed away, and while hitching a ride with two gorgeous chicks the two losers soon learn the girls are armed robbers of a roadside convenience store. The boys are then forced out of the car dressed only in their boxer shorts.
Their bad fortunes continue until they hook up with a young military-minded black man and they come across a resistance group of homeless people, who had the same misfortune as Ron. They are led by their charismatic cult leader Devorah. Suddenly out of the blue, a young man with the same name as the actor Leonardo Di Caprio appears to be involved with the stealing of Ron’s house through the actions of his sister Francesca.
If I found the story funny, I would forgive a lot of the film’s tiresome derivative scenes. But I only laughed once and that was when the superfluous character at the story’s end said this is a ‘crock of sh-t.’ Instead I applaud the effort, but not the film. If you are doing a low-budget indie, just take a chance and lay down an original film and not one that Hollywood feeds regularly to the multiplexes.
REVIEWED ON 5/14/2002 GRADE: C