Movie Review: Some nitwit named his comic hostage thriller “The Movie”

“The Movie,” a “comical” hostage “thriller” about a deranged no-talent who home-invades a has-been movie star’s house to force her to be in his film, is not autobiographical. That needs to be said.

It is not funny, exciting, scripturally witty, cinematically interesting or acted in any way that threatens at any moment to change all the things it’s not.

It’s the kind of disaster that hits my in-box, with begging/badgering messages from a publicist hired by the distributor or (more likely) by the delusional self-distributing filmmaker who hasn’t taken the parade of “pass” and “no” replies from studios/distributors seriously.

Jarrod Pistilli, sort of a more-annoying-even-less-amusing version of Jamie Kennedy, is the pushy “delivery” guy who brings a package to faded star Janet, played by Bonnie Root, who lets us feel her pain. We even sense its on-set presence between takes.

Walter the delivery guy wants her to read his script, wants her to film his script, and has delivered a huge box with all his filmmaking gear for the eventuality that he lashes her to his delivery dolly and production begins.

The most generous way to look at this amateurish riff and an amateur trying to shoot a “POV” picture with a helmet cam as he co-stars in it is as a lark that did not work and never should have seen the light of day. Nothing wrong with trying and failing. But “never seen the light of day” is the phrase that pays here.

I take no pleasure eviscerating no-budget delusions. The Wisconsinites who thought they could make a movie about race in the trenches of World War I…in Wisconsin, stick in my mind. The only people who read the reviews of such invisible disasters are those who made the movie, or their check-writing/enabling/participation trophy-praising parents. And they’re enraged, not knowing the many times others on the team heard the word “No,” and “No” for good reason.

The fact that bottom-rung distributor Gravitas picked “Movie” up suggests the filmmakers thought they had something, that they tried to get higher rungs on the distribution ladder to distribute it. Gravitas finds a nugget in their corner of the cinema ghetto every now and then. All they risk here is pocket change, and another ding on their reputation.

But a note to writer-director Michael Mandell. Your family, who probably helped finance it, the other funders — Kickstarter, etc. — won’t tell you the truth. If every other distributor is saying “Nope,” take it to heart. Otherwise, some mean old movie critic is going to type a hole right in your “The Next Kubrick” dreams.

Distributors used to be gate keepers for indie cinema, raising standards by turning away junk. Publicists fulfilled at least some of that function, too. In this day and age, it’s down to critics alone. Apparently.

Naming your movie “The Movie?” Unfathomably stupid.

And that publicist whose pitched this? Lady, you’re on my list.

Rating: unrated, PG-13ish

Cast: Bonnie Root and Jarrod Pistilli

Credits: Scripted and directed by Michael Mandell. A Gravitas Ventures release.

Running time: 1:25

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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