Is For Alex, AReviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 05/06/14 10:20:34
SCREENED AT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2014: Someday, Alex & Katie Orr's first-born child is going to see this movie, and in my head it's running fifty-fifty on whether they'll have some explaining to do our whether they'll just be the sort of weird parents where this sort of thing makes perfect sense. Probably the latter; it's not like the people who would make this sort of peculiar, homemade movie will be able or inclined to hold their eccentricity in.In the movie, Alex is an inventor in the Atlanta area, with his latest creation a pollinating done meant to take the place of all those bees vanishing due to colony collapse disorder. He also find himself facing frequent anxiety attacks over the baby he and Katie are expecting, and as the due date approaches, things are only going to get more stressful as giant robot bees prove to be just as good an idea as you'd expect and the home movies from his childhood that Alex's mother (Judith Beasly) keeps uploading to the internet actually prove to be far more than embarrassing.
Even though the Orrs are seasoned film & television production professionals, with director and co-writer Alex even having a feature under his belt (albeit one named "Blood Car"), this can often have the look and feel of a great big YouTube video, with everyone playing an off-kilter version of themselves and the production oftentimes quite literally happening their backyard or garage. It was, apparently, often shoot that way, as each new thing that freaked them out or struck them funny about impending parenthood inspired a scene that would get shot that weekend. I suspect much of the movie came about that way too, as subplots will often vanish for what seems like a long time only to have three or four bits on a row as Alex, Katie, and co- writer Adam Pinney figure out what to do with them. It makes for a chaotic, uneven movie, even with its short 74-minute running time.
The group at least spends all that time making jokes, though. About half hit for me, which isn't a bad average, and the group is pretty freewheeling about going for basically anything from cheerful vulgarity to downright peculiar absurdity, with plenty of gags about Alex being a genial, good-natured moron thrown in the mix. There are some bits that had me laughing pretty hard - the whole string relating to his mother, especially a meeting with the District Attorney where things get away from Alex quickly, is hilarious - but there's a lot that comes across as more randomly odd than sharp or targeted.
Everybody does seem to have a handle on what they're doing, at least. For all that this is an improvised movie shot where and when the filmmakers could manage it, the cinematography is clear and effective, with the simple effects work blending in well. If the movie drags, it's likely more a matter of the viewer's sense of humor not syncing with the filmmakers', which can happen. And while sometimes "play yourself, only more so" means the on-screen versions of these people aren't quite as defined as characters built from scratch, they are a fun enough group to spend an hour or so with.That's enough; this is still a movie that funny people made in their spare time, for fun, as opposed to some studio-backed product that everybody has to like, ideally multiple times. I was amused, I expect others will be, and someday, somebody else is going to either be very amused or very embarrassed. Which, less face it, is how it should be.
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