You want to get your indie comedy financed and distributed? Sign some “names” for the cast. Advertise them as the “stars.”
So sure, Val Kilmer’s only in a single scene, as “President Biden, nightmare in chief.” Put his name above the title.
Get Billy, pardon me, WILLIAM Baldwin to play a hard-nosed campaign guru who’d like to help Tom Berenger get into the White House.
Denise Richards? Make her a hard-hitting TV journalist. Drag Dominique Swain (“Lolita”) in to play a trashy neighbor.
That was enough to get me to review “1st Born,” so I guess it worked, right?
But the film stars Reza Sixo Safai and Taylor Cole as an LA couple desperate to have a baby. Well, you can see why the producers played up the others.
The wannabe-parents get the bad news that their unborn baby has prenatal health issues thusly.
“We have to abort this baby!”
That’s from the doctor (Greg Grunberg), who mugs and hums and hams his way through just enough scenes to call himself a standout in this Cast of Infamy.
The baby needs bone marrow from its two grandfathers. So Kate (Cole) has to convince her politico dad, Tucker Jefferson (Berenger) to pitch in. And Ben (Safai) much reach out to his estranged father back in Tehran. That would be infamous anti-American activist Hamid (Jay Abdo), whom we meet as he flips off reporter Christine (Richards) in a TV interview conducted in Iran.
Kate and Ben have lied to their parents’ about who and what their fathers are. Hamid is a “pistachio grower,” so far as Tucker knows. Hamid thinks his new daughter-in-law’s dad owns a push cart hamburger stand.
The illusion disappears just in time for a “You ARE the Axis of Evil!” and “YOU are the GREAT SATAN!” shout off.
These bitter enemies somehow have to find a way to take one (a long needle) for the team and donate bone marrow before they cause an international incident.
Random characters and bit players pass by the camera and fail to find anything funny to say or do. The veteran players don’t humiliate themselves. Embarrass themselves? Almost. Abdo takes the right “Soup Nazi” approach to the material. Baldwin has aged into a growling clone of older brother Alec, Kilmer doesn’t look anything like Biden — and makes so little effort that we see a mustache in the offing — Berenger sputters a bit and Richards can’t make this reporter’s “funny” lines funny.
That’s because “1st Born” is built on a script so awful you kind of wonder why they didn’t follow up on that abortion joke and abort the works. The film’s only laughs are in the blown lines — by American actors reciting that butchered English.
“Are these all your luggages?” “He first entered into American soil…” “Allow me to the be the first to call you Mister Grandfather!”
Veteran character player Robert Knepper, playing a demented Desert Storm veteran, gets off the best one-line review of the picture.
“In this country, we say the word ‘bomb’ quietly!”
Yes. Yes we do. Unless we’re talking about a cross-cultural comedy that fails on pretty much every level — music, direction script and the cast that performs it.
MPAA Rating: unrated, crude language, sex jokes
Cast: Reza Sixo Safai, Taylor Cole, Val Kilmer, Denise Richards, Jay Abdo, Tom Berenger and Billy Baldwin
Credits: Directed by Ali Atshani, script by Sam Khoze, Tarek Zohdy and Mahdi Alimirzaee. An LA Independent release.
Running time: 1:20