The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
April Fools (2007)
In a tradition I started two years ago, on my 30th birthday, with the film April Fools Day, I have been doing a film celebrating April 1st. It looks now, though, like this might be the last time, because I'm really scraping the bottom of the barrel-- even if this has Obba Babatundé.
April Fools is about a group of really old high school kids in Chicago who kill a popular TV advertisement actor in the process of an April Fools joke gone bad. One year later, someone is bumping off the kids involved with the prank. Could this be some kind of revenge?
No style, no substance. It's okay to have one without the other, but neither doesn't work. One thing I'd consider mixing in is a collapsible knife-- it makes those stabbing scenes that much better. Also, if the stunts look clunky, don't use them. Maybe try humor instead. A great example came when the killer accosted a victim in the bathroom. The kid turns before the killer can get him, and a clunky-as-all-hell struggle ensues. Why not do something funny there instead? A bathroom scene is screaming out for dark humor. The end was the worst, because we get this idea that the killer had spiked the main girl's drink, meaning she'd be knocked out, wake up somewhere, and he'd reveal his motives. Instead, he's like "drink up your cola", and she has a sip, then some more clunkiness ensues, and she escapes, leading to an even more poorly choreographed struggle that ends in the killer's death. I mean, with a running time of 75 minutes, there was plenty of time to flesh some things out, replace those awkward-- and extremely silly in a bad way-- looking struggles, and have more fun with it. In the end, this is a glorified YouTube video with Obba Babatundé.
Obba Babatundé. Can we say it again? Obba Babatundé. Just rolls off the tongue right? The other film of his we've done is Black Dynamite, which was fantastic. He has a pretty impressive resume, so who knows how he ended up in this. Obba Babatundé. Obba Baba Obba Baba Obba Babatundé. He plays the police chief and father to the main girl, which is what it is I guess. He really just goes around investigating but not actually finding anything, because the girl solves the case herself and defeats the killer herself. Obba Babatundé.
Recognize this guy? He's everywhere now, huh? You can't go a commercial break without seeing him at least once. Who'd a thunk, out of everyone here, the guy who was in the film for only the first five minutes would be the most recognizable, even more so than Obba Babatundé and rapper Lil Flip. Good for you That Guy, and good luck in your future ad gigs.
I'm not too familiar with rapper Lil Flip, but I gotta figure this movie was a bad move for him. First, he's playing in some high school gym. What, you can't book a club in the city? Second, he hits on the main girl, who is in high school, instead of getting out of there with the quickness and getting into some trouble in Chi-Town. And finally, he gets shot down by the main girl. Wow, not a good look. Come on Lil Flip, you need a better agent. It's bad enough to be in a glorified YouTube video of a movie, but one that makes you looks so bad? Why couldn't you have played someone else? Like an area rapper on the come up? Then playing at a high school doesn't look so bad, and neither does getting rejected by the main girl.
Speaking of the main girl, she was played by Aaliyah Franks, and she didn't do a bad job, which makes it that much more disappointing that the film went in bad directions for her. Why the clunky fight scene with the killer at the end? Why the awkward "you're never around anymore dad" with Obba Babatundé? What they should've done was had her as a very stuck up daddy's girl, and Obba Babatundé feels like he did a bad job by spoiling her, so he gets all her friends to join up and play this big April Fools joke to show her some humility. It would've given her some depth to work with: moving from stuck-up and snobby to humble and down-to-Earth; and it would've given the bad looking killing scenes a better explanation.
Of the 75 minute running time, a good 5-10 minutes are taken up with shots of the Windy City, especially at the beginning. The problem is, Chicago never plays a part in the film. This could've taken place in Omaha or Birmingham or Milwaukee. Chicago is one of those cities that can be a character. Just look at Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Or on the other hand don't use any shots of famous Chicago landmarks in the beginning, and have the film take place in Any City, USA, which works well too. This situation, though, was like a city bait-and-switch, or a lazy addition of meaningless footage.
This is available on Watch Instantly. With a 75 minute running time-- of which I'd say 15 is taken up by opening shots of Chicago and end credits-- it could make for a good bad movie night thing, especially if you and your buddies are up for something on an MST3K level to heckle. On the other hand, this had a chance to be something more than that, and it just feels like the effort wasn't put into it, which is too bad.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1083844/