“The Andy Baker Tape” is a film school textbook example of how much movie you can get out of virtually no money.
It’s a “found footage” thriller knocked together by its writer/director-co-stars, Breta Lada and Dustin Fontaine, a tale of two long-lost brothers reunited by a DNA test and a Youtube finger-food and travel show of the “”Triple D” variety.
Well-executed, reasonably well-acted and brisk — it’s just 70 minutes long — it turns from sibling reunion and sibling revelry to deadly sibling rivalry in a New York, or in this case, New Jersey minute.
Jeff Blake (Lada) is a one-man Youtube foodie channel whose specialty is Guy FierriLand — “Diners, Dives and Drive-ins” and the sumptuous finger foods one can find by American roadside eateries, served in crumpled aluminum foil.
“What I’m smelling right now’s what Mark Antony smelled when walked into ancient Egypt and smelled Cleopatra.”
That’s the shtick that landed Jeff a Food Network pilot. All he has to do is gather together his best video, and some new stuff, and impress them and the deal is done.
That makes this the perfect time to add a little drama to his life and the show. He gets an online DNA test that tells him he has a brother his father sired out of wedlock. Let’s go meet him, on video! Let’s take mechanic Andy Baker (Fontaine) out of his rural New Jersey digs and on the road to New Jersey’s finest fun-on-a-bun pork sandwiches.
The film is heavy on Jeff’s “process,” running different version of his lines, cleaning up his language (for “the network”), showing just how much he tapes to edit into each show, and how he now includes his newly-found brother — who doesn’t share his outgoing personality or palate — in this episode.
A road trip with a close-in-age relative you’ve just met and have little in common with? What could go wrong?
It’s far too easy to guess that, and just as little effort is required to spot the moments where we wonder “Why are they recording this?” or “Who exactly is recording that?” “Baker Tape” still manages to avoid most found footage pitfalls.
What works against this short, sinister and to-the-point thriller are its limited horizons. Simply put, it’s a story of no consequence, a movie that leaves you with an overwhelming sense of “Yeah, and?”
The acting is adequate when it needs to be bigger. The characters aren’t compelling enough to invest in, and the paranoia, fear and fury acted-out here just aren’t over-the-top enough to hold one’s interest.
We’ve seen so many versions of this sort of story that you’ve got to have more on the page before shooting starts than a “Food Network” gimmick and a few yummy sandwiches to unwrap, describe and taste.
Rating: unrated, violence, profanity
Cast: Bret Lada and Dustin Fontaine.
Credits: Directed by Bret Lada, scripted by Dustin Fontaine and Bret Lada. A Terror Films release.
Running time: 1:09