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by Scott Weinberg

"A business is only as successful as the idiots who run it."
4 stars

We all remember when the Internet went boom, right? Stories about how Johnny Amazon made a trillion bucks were replaced with tale after miserable tale of overt and horrific failure. The latecomers had made their move just a little too late; all the spoils had been claimed.

That's something that the goofball characters in IPO don't know yet: that they're already out of work, despite the catered office parties and the impressive-looking nameplates. That Holy Grail of Internet pioneers, the "IPO", is the brass ring they'll never get to grasp.

At least not with, anyway.

Equal parts ensemble comedy and knowing wink to the early days of Online Greed, Daniel Gamburg's IPO is a quiet and unassuming affair, the sort of movie that becomes engrossing without your even noticing. Sure, it's not as flashy or refined as the multiplex fodder, but let's not knock a first-time filmmaker for honing his talents with the digital technologies that make movies like IPO possible in the first place.

The story's the thing, as they say, and with the dizzying array of colorful characters that Gamburg has conceived, IPO has story to spare. We got well-intentioned (yet under-prepared) young moneymen, an office manager with stars in her eyes, and a collection of intermittently hardworking office types - all of whom are desperately clinging to the hope of a bigtime cash windfall...if and when their project succeeds.

Not content to simply lay the history out there as something to mock with hindsight, Gamburg craftily allows each of his myriad characters to shine through with their own back-stories and various motivations. Employees are hired overnight; the sudden promise of success leads to more than one case of, shall we say, marital strife; the money men get nervous when they see three new office temps...all of whom are taking a coffee break at the same time.

Also quite refreshing is the way in which homosexual relationships co-exist among "straight folk": with an air of 'matter-of-factness' and as everyday experience. I hate to even draw attention to it, but most movies that feature some form of homosexuality feel the need to trumpet their 'awareness' and paint their characters in the broadest brush strokes imaginable. Clearly that's not the case here.

First-time writer/director Daniel Gamburg clearly has a canny ear for the way the 'office folk' communicate. Taken as either a caustic look back at a sillier (and greedier) period, or as a busy and affable ensemble piece, "IPO" marks a rock-solid debut either way.

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originally posted: 01/31/04 11:33:05
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Slamdance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Slamdance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/17/04 Dave movie lacks focus & believable characters, done like a reality tv show without a plan 2 stars
11/13/04 alec total amature crap. No value- neither esthetical, nor intellectual, nor factual... 2 stars
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