, , , , , , , ,

I should've gotten the one that blows bubbles...

Unrated, but I’d say R

Cris Lankenau, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Raul Castillo, Robyn Rikoon

Doug: You look contemplative…what are you thinking about?
Carlos: Well, uh, nothing man…I just want to ask you if it’s really cool if I take Rachel to the Star Trek convention tomorrow.
Doug: Yeah, of course.
Carlos: I mean, I know she’s your ex-girlfriend and everything.
Doug: I’m not bothered by it.
Carlos: I don’t know, I just didn’t want you to think we were going on a date or something…I don’t know, the whole thing just makes me uncomfortable.
Doug: I’m totally fine with it.  And you guys are dorks.

After dropping out of college, where he was studying forensic science, Doug (Lankenau) moves in with his sister and gets a job in an ice factory.  It’s basically a dull, uneventful life he leads until one day his ex-girlfriend goes missing, and Doug must employ some of the skills he’s learned in order to find her.

Have you ever wanted to be really good at something but not willing to put enough work into it to succeed at it?

I think that’s a feeling that a lot of people can relate to, so already we have a connecting point to this movie.  Specifically to Doug.  He wants to be Sherlock Holmes.  He loves Sherlock Holmes.  But when it comes to actually taking the steps to be Sherlock Holmes, Doug isn’t so able to follow through.  He dropped out of college where he was learning how to be a detective, and then when he’s faced with an opportunity to actually solve a mystery, he’s reluctant to even get involved.

He has also moved in with his sister, Gail (Dunn), which could point to a state of arrested development for both of them.  They both seem to want to escape from a certain sense of apathy, and they might be each others best hope and worst enemy as far as that is concerned.  Their relationship was a little odd to me…borderline uncomfortable at times, but thankfully never venturing into creepy territory.

They definitely work well together, as characters and actors.  Lankenau and Trieste Kelly Dunn both give very good, believable performances, as do the other two main actors – Raul Castillo as Carlos and Robyn Rikoon as Rachel.  The friendship between Carlos and Doug is very natural and is given time to develop in the first half hour or so of the movie.  In fact, that first section of the movie is devoted almost entirely to character development (I love that Carlos is really into Star Trek).  Though, there are a couple of little clues to the upcoming mystery strewn about.

What is probably most surprising about this movie is how funny it was.  The dialogue is witty and well written, once again in a believable way.  It’s not about writing set-ups for jokes and then delivering punchlines, it’s about writing witty and odd things that sound like what people would actually say within real conversations.

That’s what makes this movie work for me.  It’s all grounded in reality.  The people, the places, and the situations all seem very real.  Even the mystery of what happened to Rachel is plausible while still managing to be engrossing.  Writer and Director Aaron Katz does a great job of building tension in situations that, if we stop and think about it, probably shouldn’t be eliciting such feelings.  Yet, there I was thinking, “wait, Doug, be careful!”

The comedy and mystery elements are balanced very well throughout, not unlike the way Hitchcock used to balance them.  In fact, we get another Hitchcock element here as well – a MacGuffin in the form of a briefcase that drives the last half of the movie.  Any movie that gets me in the mind of Hitchcock movies probably has some good things going for it.

My only real disappointment (aside from Carlos seeming to disappear from the movie two thirds of the way in) was at the very end.  Without giving any spoilers, I’ll just say that you should go into this one knowing that, when the credits roll, you might find yourself saying, “wait a second, it’s over?”  That cut to black was a little too sudden for me, but that slightly bitter aftertaste wasn’t enough to erase the memory of the good film that preceded it.

I like seeing characters find a purpose and focus in their lives.  And even though this specific situation won’t last forever, there’s hope that this renewed sense of adventure will propel Doug and Gail into a future more closely resembling what they probably dreamed of as kids.  A future where they aren’t afraid, and too apathetic, to be the people they want to be.

Be careful what you throw away in hotel trash cans.

10 – 1 because it probably could have been a little more tightly edited – .9 because I have to admit the ending was a little less than satisfying for my brain that obviously needs more of a sense of closure = 8.1