Doug (Jesse Buschini) has just had one tough day. He was fired from the job he’s had for the last 10 years and his car just broke down in the office parking lot. Even worse, his wife Brianne (Julie Ann Dinnewith) is furious that he’s not home yet to celebrate their anniversary. But things take a real bizarre turn when Doug’s brother Dallas (Jeff D. Miller) calls him to let him know that he’s being held hostage by a group of mime gangsters (!) over a $2000 gambling debt, and unless Dallas comes up with the money by 6:00 AM, they’re going to kill him (dunk him in liquid nitrogen to be exact). So Doug calls a cab from the Turban Taxi Company and is introduced to driver Habib (Henry Ramirez). Doug finds that all of the city’s ATMs are broken, so he can’t withdraw the money he needs to bail out Dallas. Desperate, Doug gets a wild idea after he finds Habib dead from an apparent overdose of anti-anxiety meds. He’ll “borrow” Habib’s cab and drive all night in an attempt to earn the money he needs from potential taxi fares. The only problem is that the fares Doug takes in during the night are so bizarre, he may not make it to the morning.
“Midnite Cabby” is a new indie comedy from writer/director Rocky Costanzo and it’s a wild and madcap take on the countdown comedy. Sort of like Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours” (1985), the film deals with the twisted and freaky people that only come out at night and how a desperate “normal” deals with the situation. Doug only wants to save his brother, but is unprepared for the insanity of the night people. It’s fun to watch the strait-laced Doug’s reaction to each fare he takes in as each one gets weirder and weirder.
One of the most inventive aspects of the film is the video game display that pops up onscreen every time Doug drops off a new fare. It gives a rundown of how much money Doug has made, how much more he needs and his health level. There are also some howlingly funny “weirdos” that Doug picks up in the cab with names like Paranoid Pete, Rumpus Rachel, Friendly Fareed and Tranny Trinette. As you can imagine, they subject our hero to quite a hazing.
Granted, the movie’s premise is paper thin and it raises a lot of questions that it doesn’t even try to answer. For instance, why doesn’t Doug call 911 when Habib dies? Why doesn’t he call the police so that they can track Dallas’s location through his phone? And while these questions go through your mind while watching the movie, they don’t prevent the movie’s high energy level from taking over and carrying you along.
Jessi Buschini gives a solid enough performance as the straight-up Doug, but it is the supporting actors that really carry the film. My favorites were Christopher Carrington, Darian Weiss, Noah Wagner and Pete Stone. Since they each are only given a few minutes in the film, they really turn in some hilarious and revved up performances.
“Midnite Cabby” is a welcome addition to the genre of movies where a “normal” goes out of his comfort zone and winds up in a bizzarro world that he can’t control. It’s solidly entertaining and I had a smile on my face for the entire flick.
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