Opening 27 May 2010
Jared Hess has made a funny satire about plagiarism. Perhaps he was working through his own experiences with unlawful imitation of his successful comedies such as Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre.
Benjamin (Michael Angarano) lives alone with his mom Judith (Jennifer Coolidge) in a round-roofed house in Saltair, Utah. Mom home schools Benji, runs a lingerie shop, designs negligees, goes to church and means well. Benji is ill prepared for the real world of girls, braggarts and betrayal at the Cletus Festival for Science Fiction Writers. Sci fi is his hobby, and his story Yeast Lords is up for competition. The festival was a flop, except for his meeting with successful writer Dr. Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement – note his New Zealand accent). Chevalier’s advice to on-going authors is, “Cash that check immediately and enjoy your money. They will remember us for the wealth we have accumulated.” Chevalier lands a big hit by publishing Yeast Lords as his own. At the same time, video maker Lonnie Donaho (Hector Jimenez) adapts Benjamin’s book into a video. This causes a conflict between two authors, while Ben has received nothing. The moral of the story is: register your work with the Writer’s League.
The actors(all unknown to me although they have worked with Hess before) in the main
roles as well as in the many, many small weird ones take the film confidently
into la-la land. I especially liked Clement clothed in gay artist’s duds,
Benjamin wrapped in naiveté, and Mom modelling “I Dream of Jeannie” harem pants.
The main plot is interwoven by three sub-plot presentations of Yeast Lords in bastardized versions by
Chevalier, the video, and Benjamin’s original. Here, Bronco (Sam Rockwell –
note his southern accent), Vanaya, and Kanaya attack a yeast factory and battle the evil Duncan. Be prepared to experience popcorn
balls-in-a-bag sold as Country Balls, pink vomit, flesh pockets, gonads, a blow
gun, etc. There is fine detail, precise editing, fun art work (credits open
with drawings of posters; Chevalier draws cover art) and old songs (“In the
year 2525,” “Looking for Jesse James,” “Wind of Change”). Hess never seems to run out of ideas, and if you are in the mood for excellent, well-thought-out silliness, see the movie, although I still don’t know what “gentlemen” has to do with Bronco. (Becky Tan)