Heavy Times (2010) – By James Dubbeldam

Heavy Times is a feature comedy directed by Benjamin Mark and Ryan McKenna.  The film begins with a great title sequence where vans of all sorts are crashed, crushed and destroyed. By that point, in my opinion, the film has a lot to live up to.

The film begins with Hugh (played by Jason Burnner), a basketball coach who goes to see his friend Mark (Adam Lauver) at the used car lot he works at. Mark shows Hugh a van he’s told his boss he’s interested in buying and asks to try it out for the weekend. But it’s no ordinary van- it’s lifted, 4X4 and many body panels from other vehicles!  They pick up their friend Dan (played by Brian D. Evans), who works as a human billboard. They head off for the weekend, stopping at the lake for a swim before embarking on their crazy road-trip adventure.

Crashing various house parties, one of the trio being tied up in a satanic ritual by an old roommate, the boys have no idea what they are in for, and are not prepared for over the top Rick (played by Jeff Koen), Dan’s brother-in-law who takes the guys on a wild adventure- a road trip to Montreal to “tear it up”, but of course, nothing goes right and after their weekend of adventure none of the guys will ever be the same.

Comedies are hard to do well. Mostly because people have so many different types of humor. So to try an independent comedy- you have your work cut out for you.

I’m a comedy lover. Who doesn’t love laughing? But I have to say, I didn’t laugh once while watching this movie. It was amusing at times, but never really got me.  The attempt was there having “familiar” types of actors cast- the awkward guy, the fat obnoxious guy, the quirky one. But none of the actors shone. Jeff Koen (who played the over-the-top brother-in-law) had a tall order to fill. His character was meant to annoy, and to be incredibly immature with hopes that his quick comments and rude humor would bring about laughs. I just kept thinking that he sounded a lot like Ben Affleck. I’m not sure why.  Maybe because it was set in Massachusetts.

It seems common nowadays for comedies to have musical interludes, to show time passing or to show funny sequences (commonly in slow motion). But this film was full of them. And when you use a technique over and over again it’s difficult to stay engaged. Especially when the slow motion scenes aren’t that interesting.

I would have loved to have seen the four characters make it to Montreal for a day of debauchery, but of course they don’t make it there. And it’s an independent film- Montreal would have been a tall order for any film. So I was slightly disappointed, being set up for “craziness” and feeling like it wasn’t delivered.

As for the film itself, I can say however that a lot of time, effort and talent went into this project. I couldn’t find any major flaws. The production was tight, the cinematography was decent, and the sound/audio was pretty good. But I felt like it was a little “safe”. I hope the next film these directors work on another film they take a few risks and create their own style- a very important element of successful comedies- even if you don’t notice it.

Overall the acting was good. I thought the actors were all fairly believable and played their parts well. It’s just that I didn’t find anyone particularly funny. But like I said earlier, that can be quite difficult.