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Mon Ami
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by Jay Seaver

"Even the best-laid plans need good people laying them."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2012 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Mon Ami", despite its title, is in English, so its audience needn't fret about having to deal with subtitles. It's still rather off the beaten path, a buddy black comedy, with as much enthusiasm as gags involving grievous injury; maybe enough to win audiences over.

Teddy (Mike Kovac) and Cal (Scott Wallis) have known each other since they were six, though their lives are in a bit of a rut - they've been working in the same hardware store for a years, with Cal actually crashing in the back room when not in his parents' house and Teddy married to a very demanding wife (Teagan Vincze). When the store's owner Hank (John Fitzgerald) opts to put his sons in charge rather than promote Teddy after retiring, he and Cal decide to take control of the situation: Telling everyone that they're going on a fishing trip, they kidnap Hank's pretty nineteen-year-old daughter Crystal (Chelsey Reist) with the intent of holding her for ransom. They've got a plan, but it's not nearly as foolproof a plan as they think, especially given the fools involved.

Give this movie one thing; the energy level is very high indeed. The characters often talk fast, gags come at a quick pace, and nasty physical comedy produces plenty of blood. There's quick cuts and slow motion, and rather than get bogged down, things accelerate toward the end. The movie relies on this energy, both in terms of keeping the audience with the characters as things get further out of hand and having the characters continually make things worse for themselves when stopping to think might solve a lot of problems.

As much as that energy frequently works for the movie, it does also occasionally feel like it's trying to cover up its weaknesses. The classical soundtrack (from a royalty-free music website) initially feels like a temp track rather than the music that really fits the scene, for instance. And the trouble with making a movie entirely populated by dimwits, eccentrics, and dimwit eccentrics is that it's sometimes hard to figure out, when something strikes you as off, whether it's because the character is supposed to sound weird or whether the actor isn't quite hitting the target. That's a bit of an issue with Teddy; he seems like he should be pretty capable, but comes off sort of, well, off.

Despite that, actor Mike Kovac can certainly get into a manic groove when he needs to, and he's got good chemistry with Scott Wallis. The pair have the genuine feel of best friends, and manage to build up enough sympathetic schlub credit early on to get them through the movie. Chelsey Reist is enjoyably game for whatever writer/director Rob Grant throws at her, and Bradley Duffy doesn't hold back with his bizarre character. Teagan Vincze is a late-arriving MVP, making Teddy's wife Liz everything one would hope and expect from an hour of build-up.

"Mon Ami" is a little less assured than Grant's first feature (zombie thriller "Yesterday", with which it shares much of the cast), but has enough high spots to frequently get over, especially to a genre audience that digs bloody comedy.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=24036&reviewer=371
originally posted: 07/30/12 01:43:29
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2012 series, click here.

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Directed by
  Rob Grant

Written by
  Rob Grant

Cast
  Mike Kovac
  Scott Wallis
  Justin Sproule
  Chelsey Reist
  Teagan Vincze



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