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.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Meet Monica Velour (2010)
With the Super Bowl this week, and with my Patriots playing in the big game, I figured I'd do some Super Bowl XLVI themed posts. At the same time, this film, Meet Monica Velour, has been on my radar for some time, it was one I wanted to watch, but I thought it was more indie flick than DTV flick, so I backed off it-- plus, it wasn't until recently that it became available on Watch Instantly. Anyway, the film takes place in Indiana (though shot in Michigan), and the Super Bowl is playing in Indianapolis, so I figured I'd make it happen as part of my Super Bowl theme.
Meet Monica Velour follows a recent high school grad from Washington named Tobe (Dustin Ingram). After his grandfather and guardian, Brian Dennehy, gives him the family hot dog mobile as a graduation present, he decides to put it up for sale, but only gets an offer from a dude out in Indiana (DTVC favorite Keith David). This just happens to coincide with a performance at an Indiana strip club by 70s/80s porn star Monica Velour (Kim Cattrall), whom Tobe has a major obsession with. He decides on a whim to drive the hot dog truck out to Indiana to sell it and meet her. The only problem is, the real her is very different from her on-screen persona.
This was a really great movie. For me, it's what a Romantic Comedy should be. It also had a very 90s indie feel to it, which was interesting, because there was a lot of vintage memorabilia and nostalgia throughout, so why not have the movie feel like it could've been made in the 90s too. It lost itself a little near the end, but it had built up so much goodwill to that point that it could get away with it. Great cast, and a fun, endearing story-- this is worth checking out.
The Romantic Comedy has been for me a genre that's been drawing dead for sometime, yet despite that fact, still brings in a lot of money at the box office. I think the thing that turns me off is the often fairy tale aspect, that somehow the two lovers that seemed so not meant for each other, or who had been kept apart because one of them was engaged to a heel, somewhere around the last 15 minutes magically see what we've seen all along, and they ride off into the sunset. This movie turns that on its ear somewhat, but finds away to keep that sentimentality in a way that didn't make me run from it. For Tobe, this is his fairy tale-- and would be the same fairy tale for a lot of 17-year-old boys, meeting and interacting with a porn star, with her reciprocating-- and while we root for Tobe, we also realize the ludicrousness of what he wants, and the movie never lets us or Tobe get too caught up in the fairy tale before reality busts in. I think it's that balance that works best here, that it's quirky and fun, and a little outrageous, but also down to Earth when it has to be, and isn't afraid to be down-to-Earth.
Brian Dennehy was fantastic as the grandfather. One of the scariest movies I've ever seen was To Catch a Killer, where Dennehy plays a chilling John Wayne Gacy. That he can go from that to utterly hilarious in this is a testament to the kind of actor he is. Anyone who's a big Brian Dennehy fan will be happy to see him here (won't give away a scene with him near the end). Same can be said of Kim Cattrall. This was not her Sex and the City character, there was nothing glamorous or cougar-ish in her role here, she was a has-been and a drunk living in a trailer park, needing to make some money to get custody of her daughter from her ex-husband. In her scenes with Tobe, she easily could've fallen into her Sex and the City role, which is probably what most people would be expecting, but she didn't, and the movie was better for that.
Another big name we had here for only a small part was the great Keith David. He plays something of a junk collector, a man with tons of vintage memorabilia collected from all over the country. It's interesting, because he's the same age as Cattrall, but it felt like his character was supposed to be Tobe's surrogate grandfather while he was away from home, whereas Cattrall was some kind of oedipal mother figure. He's known for his great voice, but when he gets the chance to act on screen, especially in a role like this, he's always equal to the task. Also wanted to mention Dustin Ingram, who played Tobe. He looked like a geeky version of Eric Balfour, which was interesting, because Balfour usually plays the heel in teen flicks, the guy who beats up someone like Tobe. He also looks kind of Napoleon Dynamite-ish. Don't let that fool you, his character is totally unique, and a lot of fun to follow through the film.
I wanted to finish up with a quick word on Indiana, considering that's why I'm doing this review this week. I've never been there, a friend I graduated from college with went to Indiana University for grad school, and I believe he's still there working, but that's about it for a personal connection to the area. Of course, there are also their sports teams, and my Pats and their Colts have had a big rivalry for years, and it's gotta kinda suck that it's the Pats playing in the Super Bowl there. It's one of those Midwestern states that we on the coasts don't often think about, so it's cool that it's in the spotlight for this week, the biggest in American sports.
This is currently on Watch Instantly, so if you have that it would be worth checking out. Great performances, great story, everything you'd want out of a movie like this. Sometimes these kinds of things work, and sometimes they don't, this time it did.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1291549/