One of the big things I’ve noticed in the constant flow of screeners I get, is that there is a lot of experimentation in the indie film world. While Hollywood continues to drown moviegoers in a deluge of remakes, sequels, and prequels (not to mention sequels to remakes and the occasional remake of a prequel), independent film makers like Lee Godden are busy trying to make something different, original, and highly entertaining. And speaking of Lee, he is the man responsible for "Not Quite Right: The Movie," an interesting hour-and-a-half of improv sketch comedy. Lee created, directed, produced, edited, and starred in this film, and his labors have yielded an offbeat, but often funny movie.
Apparently Lee and his crew of six improvisational actors filmed over a hundred or so sketches, but in the end, only twenty-nine of them made it to the final cut of "Not Quite Right." As is to be expected with a project like this, some of the sketches are hit and miss. Some are extremely laugh out loud funny (my favorite is definitely "Try the Baby Seal Burger," which mocks all those boring cooking shows that plague cable television. I had to hit pause after Godden’s character said something along the lines of "Buffalo are mythological creatures… like unicorns…. and butterflies!") while others come up a bit short on laughs ("Public Toilet Gigolo," I’m looking in your direction). Throughout this mixed bag of comedic sketches, Mr. Godden and company poke fun at everything and anything; no topic is too taboo. "Marketing al-Qaeda" for example, involves an interview with a gay, Methodist, marketing expert that was hired to improve al-Qaeda’s public image.
While this is funny as is, there’s a running gag involving the (lack of) concealment of the expert’s identity during the interview that ramps up the comedy elements even more. The film’s squad of improv thespians also tackles stuff that hits closer to home, such as the long waits we all experience at the DMV ("DMV Clerk Training"), people that take forever at ATM machines ("What’s my PIN?"), and rude employees at grocery store checkout lines ("Loneliness in Aisle 3"). And these guys and gals also made sure to cover more important topics of debate as well, including sex ("Liver Surgery and Love"), big business ("50% Fewer Fingers Lost"), politics ("Oil Rig Chant"), the media ("Live From the Carnage"), and religion ("Pinch-Hitting for the Priest;" "And Trevor Beget Brittney")! As you can see, there’s a good mix of themes covered in this film and that helps keep "Not Quite Right" from becoming boring and episodic.
But all of that thematic diversity would have been rendered moot had the film not had such a talented cast. Along with the hilarious Lee Godden (no I’m not trying to gain brownie points folks, he really is a funny guy. Don’t believe me? Then see this movie!), there’s Dan and Lori Jablons (I’m not sure if they’re relatives or a married couple) who both excel at playing Jewish characters (Dan strikes me as sort of a Jewish Harold Ramis), Elvis Winterbottom who consistently portrays a sad, quiet, and/or pathetic guy, the usually manic Bret Calvert, the very beautiful (and underutilized) Eve (my future wife) Savona, and finally Jeff Klein, a master at wielding dry humor and keeping a straight face during his co-stars’ antics. This dream team is what makes this movie worth watching, and I really can’t commend them enough on how well they interacted with one another on a fully unscripted series of comedy sketches. Color me impressed!
"Not Quite Right: The Movie" is quite different from the usual stuff I get in the mail, and it was a pleasant (and fun) departure from the various sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films I’m constantly bombarded with. I truly enjoyed this movie though I do have a few minor criticisms about it. In my opinion, the film should have been cut down to a lean one-hour running time because an hour and a half of sketch comedy is a bit much. (Listening Lorne Michaels? Cut down SNL episodes to a solid hour! Oh and find some talented writers and comedians to help the show suck less.) With a few of the weaker sketches gone, the movie definitely would’ve played more smoothly. Also, when going through the DVD’s special features, I found the five deleted scenes from the film and was shocked that they didn’t make the final cut. I truthfully thought that they were great and were better than some of the skits that made it into the final product! ("Hot Sauce in Eyeballs" was genius, why didn’t it end up in the movie?!)
Speaking of the disc, it is a fairly well-rounded DVD with decent picture, strong audio (I had to crank down the volume of my "surround sound system" while watching the film) and a good number of extra features. Along with the aforementioned deleted scenes, the disc also has a nifty music video (Lee Godden rocks out to "Good-bye Jennifer"), an extra skit called "Soup or Salad" that was just hilarious ("No, I want the Super Salad!"), a five-minute "In the Control Booth" featurette, and finally a gallery of mini-bios of the cast. As of my writing this review, "Not Quite Right: The Movie" is not quite available on DVD, though the official Not Quite Right Website promises that it is coming soon. Once the movie is released, you can be sure that I’ll let you know via the Rogue Cinema Forums. In the meantime, be sure to spend some time over at www.nqright.com to learn more about this entertaining and fun-filled journey into the world of improvisational humor!