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Dry Spell, The
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by Chris Parry

"An indie comedy that manages to stay funny to the finish."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: You really have to hand it to Slamdance. Every year they manage to find a boatload of quality indies that Sundance has rejected to make room for the next Butterfly Effect, and their decidedly unpretentious attitude towards low-budget production values, commercial viability and star power makes for a refreshing change from the ‘black ugh boot and mini-skirt in sub-zero weather’ crowd across the street. Slamdance wants their films to do one of three things – make you think, make you freak, or make you laugh. And The Dry Spell makes you laugh… a lot.

Chip Godwin is Josey Fargo, a weird looking little modern day Leisure Suit Larry, living in Los Angeles while in the grip of an almighty depression. Josey’s big downer issue is that he can’t get laid, and more than that, he doesn’t look like he’ll ever be laid again. Ever. Like, never. We’re talking even worse romantic prospects than the guy that played Screech.

As the film opens, we’re introduced to Josey with flashbacks to various disasters that have besmirched his dating record – from going out with psycho Clooney stalkers to telling his laundry-carrying neighbor that her panties are the sexiest he’s seen, to being zapped with a cattle prod by a woman at a café. Josey’s friends are no use – they just keep telling him he’s not making the best of his opportunities, while offering him porn website passwords as a form of consolation.

The film starts at a cracking pace, with Josey talking us through these two and three-second vignettes and keeping the laughs coming with every one, so much so that you barely have time to finish your laughter before another giggle is due. Soon you begin to wonder how long the film can sustain this sort of breakneck comedy pace, since low-budget comedies ALWAYS start huge, then peter out when the story kicks in, and then finish like a wet week. Miraculously, The Dry Spell doesn’t fall victim to this rule, and instead just keeps kicking on right the way to the end, funnier and funnier and funnier.

Much of what makes the film funny is that it’s really well written. It doesn’t hurt that Chip Godwin delivers every line without putting a foot wrong, and it should also be said that this flick was edited by someone who apparently knows full well that editing can turn a good joke into an absolute gutbuster.

Some of the jokes are crass (haven’t we all brushed off a cigarette dropped on a dog turd at least once in our lives?), and others are so non-politically correct as to get the audience gasping (it takes a very special talent to make multiple rape jokes without getting walk-outs). Bottom line – as cheap and nasty looking as The Dry Spell is, and as much as the filmmaker sets audience expectations high from the very outset, it never – EVER – fails to deliver.

But as funny as it is, The Dry Spell is not going to be the next Napoleon Dynamite. The filmmakers, Drew and John Dowdle have done everything they can with the equipment and budget provided, and they’ve delivered a drop-your-pants hilarious end result in the process, but it’s just too college crowd for distributors to get overly excited about the flick’s potential. I can see this being a cult hit in dorm rooms across North America, or perhaps doing a multi-year tour of campus theaters, a few screens at a time, but to think a Miramax or Fine Line would have the wherewithal to put a little money behind such unorthodox fare as this would be an exercise in wishful thinking. The moneymen deal in stars, and The Dry Spell is star-free.

More’s the pity. Watch for it on video and buy the damn thing as soon as it’s available.

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originally posted: 01/25/05 07:14:07
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Slamdance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Slamdance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 San Francisco Independent Film Festival. For more in the 2005 San Francisco Independent Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/11/06 adrian roberts absolutely hilarious 5 stars
2/01/05 Fish You get the feeling that the Brothers Dowdle really lived the desperation. I hope they get 5 stars
1/30/05 craig varney great characters 4 stars
1/28/05 Ricky George Hewitt I've never seen anything like it. Better then "Napolean Dynamite"! 5 stars
1/28/05 Stacy Chbosky This movie is amazing. Hilarious, and oddly touching. Completely innovative comedy. 5 stars
1/28/05 Betty Taylor Very funny, true and a movie many can relate to! I even cried at the end. 5 stars
1/01/05 Libby Cromwell One of the hippest, funniest comedies I've ever seen!!! 5 stars
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