There's a Caterpillar in my Bok ChoyReviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 05/15/03 19:19:22
How do you rate a film that is part straight comedy, part sketch comedy, part TV parody, almost all filmed in someone's living room, at a cost of $12,000, with a cute dog and gorgeous women present throughout? I mean, holy crap, beating on a flick with these ingredients would be like setting fire to orphans. Orphans with cancer. I couldn't live with myself. Did I mention the dog?Like a chocolate fudge calzone, There's A Caterpillar In My Bok Choy is the kind of movie you can't believe you're actually watching, yet who amongst us could tear ourselves away? Katharine Leis decided she was sick of being in other peoples' movies and posing for modeling photoshoots (well, she didn't really, but let's pretend), so she got some pals together, went through a few hundred headshots, wrote a semblance of a script and spent the next six months shooting on weekends, racking up bills, and hoping like crazy that there'd be something viewable at the end of it.
In the process, she lampooned trash TV, displayed every editing technique known to man, turned a chinese restaurant into a photo-lab, chased the world's fakest ghost, and managed to get most of her crew on screen... whether they wanted to be or not.
And credit where it's due, I laughed. Granted, I didn't crap myself in hysterics, but I laughed, and that's more than I can say about watching Daddy Day Care or Boat Trip or The Master of Disguise.
Let's get the number one attraction for a good half of the audience out of the way right off the bat - this film is full of hot women. Now, I know it makes me sound like a non-legitimate film reviewer to go there, but to hell with you, it's a fact. Michelle L'amourt, Katharine Kissingford, Valerie Stup, Tatiana Javorsky, Meredith Webb, Tonia Kerr, and the writer/director/producer/lead actress herself... I could go on and on. If any of these women ever find themselves terminally depressed and alone and ready to take their own lives in suicidal desperation at the lack of men in their lives (yeah right), call me. We'll do Sizzler.
Now, with that out of the way, let's talk about the movie itself. Like Elizabeth Taylor, it's a 'mixed bag'... (quit booing, that was a clever joke). There are moments of inspired genius in the flick (the low budget split-screen is not only inventive, it actually fooled me for a few seconds), and so is the novel method used to cover brand names (duct tape really does have a million uses!), not to mention the poor man's smoke machine (why does everyone keep asking me for a cigarette?). But, sadly, many of the funnies are hurt by a tendency to hang on to a shot for too long, or keep pushing the joke, SNL-style. In fact, if a particularly savage editing session was inflicted on this film, it might end up half an hour shorter and very much more effective.
Massive credit for what success the film does achieve goes to one person beyond all others, and it might be no surprise that the person I'm talking about wrote, directed, produced, paid for and acted in the thing. Katharine Leis shows a ton of improv talent here, and while she may have a ways to go before she replaces Spielberg behind the camera, I couldn't help but notice similarities between her and Bonnie Hunt in front of it. Both are attractive, both are great improv comediennes, both can handle the straight stuff when need be and both have a 'take no shit' demeanor about them. Granted, Hunt's got a good decade plus on Leis incthe age department, but perhaps comedy is a direction that the woman behind The Caterpillar should be headed.
Pet peeves of the Bok Choy experience: The squeaky couch where a good third of the movie takes place constantly trod the line between funny and worrying, while sometimes the music outstayed it's welcome. On top of that, the quality of sound is a problem, something that can most definitely be blamed on the format to a large extent, but not entirely.
Having said that, there's no denying that Bok Choy is a fun time. It's reminiscent of watching that video you and your friends made last Christmas when your buddy Nick brought over the magic mushrooms that turned out to a little too magic. You know the one I'm talking about - at some points you wonder where humor like that could come from, and at other times you want to hit the fast forward button, but you're too afraid to do so in case you miss something unexpected.
With some tweaking and cutting (and more input from Beeker the dog), it could be a real cult favorite, and the outtakes and alternate ending on the DVD are a definite hoot. Sure, the film is far from perfect, in fact on occasion it's downright ornery, but sometimes you just have to forget there ever was a Citizen Kane and have a little fun with the medium.
Seen in the light of what it cost, how it came to be, and what the filmmakers had to work with, this is a flick that adds up to far more than the sum of its parts.If you're prepared to gamble a few bucks on what I'm telling you (no refunds, bucko), take a trip to http://www.theresacaterpillarinmybokchoy.com and buy yourself a copy. What have you got to lose? If it sucks, resell it on eBay. What am I, your father?
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