Broke (2006) – By Joshua Samford

 "Coach! I broke my arm!"
"Walk it off!"

That line right there encapsulates the basic feel of just what exactly Broke is. Not exactly the newest one-liner, or freshest point ever made (a coach being hard on his students and telling them to walk everything off) – but what makes a lot of Broke work is the actual delivery. The coach and his seeming apathy towards the student who moments earlier broke is arm, who is then pelted unmerciful (the coach makes the students play dodgeball with those heavy medicine balls boxers train with) and suffers some terrible misfortune during the course of the film. From the get-go, Broke is an obvious nod to a lot of different films and comedies, a couple in particular that I will get to later, but everything is done with a lot of youthful enthusiasm and even if the script, or more precisely a few of the gags, aren’t completely new material; it’s all fairly forgivable when you take all the fun the film provides and just how much fun the actors seem to be having. Not to mention that for a film with such a low budget, this is a fairly polished little film and the director’s next work (a trailer was available as an easter egg on the DVD), Zombie Island, looks even more technologically advanced. With the brilliant opening credits sequence and all of the video effects throughout the film, I’m guessing a few of these young guys are computer geeks in their spare time and overall I have to applaud them for putting out one very smooth and clean looking final product.

And for the record, Pizza Sluts 5 may be the best thing I’ve ever seen. In case you’re wondering what that might be, you’ll have to watch the flick to get the gag. All I will say is it’s the greatest pornographic tape that I could possibly imagine. Without me being in the lead of course. Broke definitely has a few kinks that get in the way every once in a while, and I want to express those kinks so I can get past them, but yes some of the jokes fall flat some times, and sure, the delivery could have been a little more vibrant from some of the cast (but really? What can you expect? I have to give the guys ample amounts of respect for being as charismatic as they are and having that shine through on their first outing as filmmakers) – but overall; Broke is one funny flick. I actually finished watching Martin And Orloff about two days before seeing this film, which I also thought was quite nice, but for being a film from some of the greatest comedic minds of this time and era – The Upright Citicenz Brigade as a troupe weren’t as successful as entertaining as I think these kids were. That is as much a compliment as I could give this film without going over the top I think. When the timing is right, and when everyone hits their marks just the way they were supposed to – Broke turns out to be one hilarious film. The characters are goofy, sometimes over the top but always entertaining and for the most part fairly original. The character of Wedge, who is awesome by the way, was obviously intended to be the stand-out and the film’s calling card – and although the 80’s rocker stylings of Wedge are a bit overdrawn; he still succeeds as being that "one character" that everybody talks about. For my money though, Aldo the lazy, sarcastic and completely idiotic best friend is probably the greatest of the group however.

Broke is a simple story of a group of kids graduating and going on a summer trip into the magical lands of Canada. The sights, the sounds, the travelling! Well, that’s what they were hoping to experience, however after striking a wandering lama (yes, a lama) and wrecking their friend’s van – these four guys have to scrape together nearly a thousand dollars before their friend’s parents come home and find the van totally smashed. Odd jobs, pool cleaning, parties, lemonade stands and a life of crime soon ensue; all to fairly mixed results. Broke is a film with a fairl simple premise, but has a lot more going for it than anything simply written in a script. It’s a wandering piece that feels as if it was made up on the spot half the time, and though I doubt that was the case, it comes through clear and gives the film a spontaneous atmosphere. There are moments where the film just heads into a gag with very little in the way of exposition, and it works. I’m a big fan of surreal comedy, and scenes such as when our characters are offered drugs but when they don’t buy, are then offered a souped-up vacuum cleaner and they are totally into it – that sort of stuff just knocks my jaw down. The dialogue, while not mind blowing at first, offers plenty of memorable quips throughout. Bits about knife salesmen, door-to-door religious travellers and Aldo and his inability to keep up with any basic form of bill-paying are constantly making return jokes throughout and often offer some of the funniest moments. I don’t know how far the film is going to go, but it definitely deserves an audience and I really hope it finds its own.

Going back to the strong similarities this film might have with other films and such, well, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the "Family Guy" style of comedy. For those not familiar with the show, usually they will often provide some exposition on a past situation (such as "remember that time —- happened?") and then a quick jump in editing shows us either a dual meaning from the words used, or something the audience simply doesn’t expect – and Broke does this often and usually with great results. I can’t say for sure just how influenced they were with the show, but I’d say for anyone who loves that show Broke is something they should definitely check out. This isn’t American Pie or some other dumb kid show, and this isn’t Responsibility Time starring Blando McGee. It’s a slightly more mature, slightly less sex-obsessed version of a similar pathos. As I read in an interview with the director where he harkened his film back to older classic John Cusack teen films; I would agree. If American Pie was the new Porky’s, Broke is the new Better Off Dead; or at least close to it. I really hope the best for the guys responsible for the film and I hope they have lots of success on the grueling independent film festival scene. I think their film is polished enough (I mean, it looks REALLY good), is funny enough and has enough of an interesting take on the whole situation for them to find a lot of success out there. Here is hoping that they do, and for any of you out here maybe the slightest bit interested in a funny film with a new perspective on the teen genre; I hope you’ll find a way to check it out.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the film’s myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/broke_movie.