(director/writer: Theda Hammel; screenwriter: Faheem Ali/story by Ali & Hammel; cinematographer: Arlene Muller; editors: Erin DeWitt/Theda Hammel; music: Theda Hammel; cast: John Early (Terry Goon), Qaher Harhash (Bahlul), John Roberts (Leo), Amy Zimmer (Vanessa), Elizabeth Dement (Abigail), Theda Hammel (Karla), Faheem Ali (Ronald), Rebecca F. Wright (Coco), Davidson Obennebo (Hamadou); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Allie Jane Compton, Greg Nobile, Stephanie Roush; Neon; 2024)

“The film’s a hoot. It makes Woody Allen’s neurotic New Yorker look like an out-of-towner.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A pandemic comedy written, directed, edited and starring Theda Hammel, in her debut feature film as director. It’s co-written by Faheem Ali, who also has a role in the film. It takes place for a few days in the summer of 2020.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the frantically worried about getting the virus, Terry Goon (John Early), an unemployed gay man, living in quarantine in his ex-husband Leo’s (John Roberts) Brooklyn brownstone, where his troubled 19-year-old nephew Bahlul (Qaher Harhash), a half-Moroccan model, has broken his leg and is being cared for by Terry.

Terry’s lesbian friend Karla (Theda Hammel) and her girlfriend Vanessa (Amy Zimmer) are meddling neighbors he tries to deal with but without success. His eccentric upstairs lodger Coco (Rebecca F. Wright) is a COVID denier, who is a bad influence on Bahlul. Making things even worse for Terry, is his falling out with Karla leaves him more screwed-up than usual. Also in the picture is the handsome delivery man Ronald (Faheem Ali), who adds complications to the friendship between Karla and Terry.

To keep things from being lucid, several narrators relay the story differently. Each telling of the fear and anxiety over the pandemic that’s been set in motion among these characters.

Hammel has a field day satirizing the annoying ignorant characters, who under her gaze become enjoyable characters to goof on even if they’re intolerable people you would never want to be around.

The film’s a hoot. It makes Woody Allen’s neurotic New Yorker look like an out-of-towner.

But be warned, the film’s cutting humor is not for everyone.

It played at the Sundance FIlm Festival.

REVIEWED ON 4/24/2024  GRADE: B+