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Overall Rating
4.64

Awesome85.25%
Worth A Look: 3.28%
Average: 6.56%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4.92%

2 reviews, 49 user ratings


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In Memory of My Father
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by EricDSnider

"A father's death never seemed so funny."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 CINEVEGAS FILM FESTIVAL: I couldn't attend my grandfather's funeral a few months ago. I regretted this, not just because I would like to have helped memorialize him, but because of my siblings' reports on what happened when the whole extended family got together. We hadn't seen some of these cousins, aunts and uncles in a long time, and the anecdotes concerning their behavior and character traits were delightful. Hearing about it made me think, for just a brief moment, that such a scenario -- a family reunites to mourn a loved one -- could make a great, quirky comedy.

Then I remembered that such a scenario has already been used to make about 1,000 quirky comedies, some great and some not-so-. But I could see why it's the go-to premise for independent filmmakers. It is rife with possibilities, both comic and dramatic, and most writers have experienced something similar to it that they can draw from.

Which probably explains "In Memory of My Father," a -- you guessed it -- quirky independent comedy that takes its shopworn scenario and turns it into comic gold. Hand-held cameras and semi-improvised dialogue lend it realism, while the flurry of well-crafted comic situations it creates brings it to heights of hilarity. It's a perfect example of doing something new with an old story.

The event is the death of Dad (David Austin), a movie producer who has lingered in bed in the Hollywood Hills before finally kicking the bucket this morning. Prior to his death, he bribed his youngest son Chris (Christopher Jaymes, also the writer/director) to document his final days and whatever wakes or memorial services are held subsequently. It's the last vain act of a vain Hollywood type who wants to live forever on film.

Chris has recruited his friend Pat (Pat Healy) to assist him in videotaping everything, a project that leads to hysterically callous moments like asking Dad's latest youthful girlfriend Judy (Judy Greer) to weep "over there, where the light is better."

Soon people have gathered for a wake, and we get to see how hedonists mourn. (Hint: It involves a lot of drugs and alcohol.) Chris' brother Jeremy (Jeremy Sisto) is on hand, upset over the departure of his wife Monet (Monet Mazur), who is a lesbian now. Chris' latest girlfriend, the 17-year-old Christine (Christine Lakin), arrives, as does Chris' ex-girlfriend Nicholle (Nicholle Tom) and her new doormat boyfriend Todd (Todd Rulapaugh). Pat is eager to see Chris and Jeremy's half-sister Meadow (Meadow Sisto), who he has the hots for and who is bringing her boyfriend Eric (Eric Michael Cole). The oldest brother, Matt (Matt Keeslar), shows up eventually and hits on Judy, his late father's girlfriend who is, to be fair, Matt's own age.

And those are just the characters with names! The large house is soon full of people drinking, laughing and allegedly mourning, while the principals are encountering exes, getting drunk or high, making things worse, and talking about sex. Jeremy and Eric do Ecstasy and put on bathrobes, while Pat gets drunk, declares his feelings for Meadow, and then angrily barges around the backyard shouting, "I want to get in a fight!" At one point Chris improvises a song on the piano called "Daddy's Dead."

The performances are uniformly good, funny without going over the edge into goofiness. It's the situations that are brilliantly concocted, in an "Arrested Development" sort of way, so that all the characters need to do to be funny is to react naturally.

In the aftermath of the wild party/wake, there is even some emotional truth to be found. Dad's death has been a catalyst for these hopelessly shallow souls to face their troubles and to learn a little something. Not a lot, mind you, but something. And there the film crosses over from smart comedy into smart, respectable comedy, a comedy that goes somewhere without making you feel like you're being taken. This is definitely one to watch.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12286&reviewer=247
originally posted: 06/27/05 14:44:09
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2005 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Florida Film Festival For more in the 2006 Florida Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/01/15 manalone923 lol 1 stars
7/31/08 Elle Where can I get this on DVD? 5 stars
3/03/07 jonny cash total crap 1 stars
10/15/06 William Goss Loosely paced dysfuncational family dramedy has good chemistry, but is never too original. 3 stars
5/08/06 rstipe soooo good 5 stars
4/08/06 jjjohnathon best sisto performance to date 5 stars
2/15/06 NY gloo best, best best... and that's that 5 stars
2/08/06 apg-robinson best movie of the year and years to come 5 stars
1/20/06 ryan smart comedy... without knowing how smart it is 5 stars
1/11/06 mike don't let the title fool you... it's a cynical, must see 5 stars
1/07/06 pplan go see it 5 stars
12/05/05 heather it's genius- best film of the year 5 stars
12/03/05 lipsnlips see it or you'll be upset 5 stars
11/25/05 brit absolute perfection- what film is supposed to be 5 stars
11/21/05 appadappa the movie to see on the fest circuit this year 5 stars
11/11/05 joseph perfect movie 5 stars
11/09/05 brooke honest. real. HILARIOUS. very well-written. 5 stars
10/30/05 guy twelve indie as it should be 5 stars
10/26/05 jay ry f***ing brilliant 5 stars
10/24/05 Sheila Dragged 3 stars
10/23/05 maryann Wish more films made me feel this way 5 stars
10/17/05 lara m as good as it gets 5 stars
10/16/05 niki jaymes is genius 5 stars
10/12/05 Mcorey amazing, perfect, loved it 5 stars
10/04/05 P-Saf Best film this year for me 5 stars
9/25/05 Damion Gruenrich a modern day Chekov 5 stars
9/07/05 Ron J Better than expected 5 stars
9/04/05 Missy Absolutely Genius... no questions 5 stars
8/24/05 Lleach Loved it!!!! 5 stars
8/19/05 JAMEE see it, you'll like it 5 stars
8/17/05 ALDO Can't Hardly Wait 2 4 stars
8/14/05 JNelson something accidentally perfect about the film 5 stars
8/05/05 Brynne This film reminds me why I like people 5 stars
7/25/05 D Buckley Better than the trailer makes it look. 3 stars
7/25/05 carol k funny, moving, powerful... loved it 5 stars
7/23/05 eric m best indie of the year, by far 5 stars
7/21/05 Klondo lots of swearing. 4 stars
7/19/05 Joe M. Chris Jaymes is a cool guy. He looks like a Fox, but is nicer. 3 stars
7/01/05 Eddie This movie sucks 1 stars
6/27/05 Janet funny, fresh -- bros on the verge of god knows what but was transfixed the entire time! 5 stars
6/23/05 Milo Fantastic 5 stars
6/22/05 M Saunders A unique gem--funny, moving, intense, surprising, fascinating 5 stars
6/22/05 T Money Best indie of the year. 5 stars
6/21/05 Mary Jane PERFECTLY WONDERFUL! 5 stars
6/21/05 Nils two thumbs up - must see 5 stars
6/21/05 Christopher McFarland Hilarious and gritty - a compelling film that gets it all right - Chris Jaymes shines. 5 stars
6/21/05 Chris N Far exceeded expectations, which were already high -- loved it and recommend it highly 5 stars
6/18/05 Y raz The most intelligent film at CineVegas 5 stars
6/15/05 J Woods Best film in CineVegas, hands down. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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