S.O.L. (2011) – By Duane L. Martin

The name of the film is S.O.L.. If you don’t know what that means, then you’re either a complete prude or you’ve been living under a rock your whole life. S.O.L. pretty much describes the life of the main character, Zack (Jason Schaver). He once had it all going for him. He had a beautiful girlfriend and his career was really taking off, but things turned sour for him when his sitcom got canceled, his stand up comedy career went to crap and his girlfriend left him because he was so focused on himself and his career all the time. Now, alone and depressed, Zack suddenly runs into his old friend Ryan (Ken Gayton) and his brother Michael (Adam Breske) outside a bank. They tell him they need a ride, and he agrees. That’s where things really turn to crap. Ryan and Michael rob the bank, take a super hot female hostage that also happens to be the star of a popular TV show called Superfreak, and they make Zack drive them to their hideout, which is a cabin out in the woods owned by Ryan’s Uncle Kevin, who was the mastermind of the bank robbery. Will Zack be able to get away with his life? Will he get back together with his ex-girlfriend? Will he ever climb out of the big pile of crap he landed in? You’ll have to see the film to find out.

So, what makes a great film? You ask that question to ten different people and you’ll likely get ten different answers. Well here’s my answer. A great film has four key elements. Competent production quality with a good pacing and flow, an engaging and coherent story, characters you actually care about, and it has to have a good sense of whatever kind of a film it’s trying to be genre-wise, those elemets have to work. If it’s a comedy, it has to be funny. If it’s a drama, it has to be…well, whatever people feel when they watch dramas. Personally I try to avoid them because they bore the hell out of me. You get the idea though.

What I love about this film is that it really nails each of these key elements. The cast is amazing and very talented, the funny parts are funny, the dramatic parts dramatic, the action parts feel like action parts, etc…. It also has a great pacing and tells a coherent story with multi-dimensional characters that the viewer can actually care about rather than being filled with one-dimensional throwaway characters that plague so many other films.

The most special thing about this film really are the characters. The cast was all great, but a few characters in particular were especially good. Adam Breske’s character Michael was basically an utter moron, but his character was one of the funniest I’ve seen in an independent film, probably ever, and he just played it to the hilt. The other stand out for me was Jonathan Biver, who had a small part as a hotel clerk. He wasn’t a main character or anything, but the way he played the utterly dry, disinterested and sarcastic clerk was just absolutely hilarious. If I mentioned everyone in the film who deserved a mention, I’d have to talk about the whole cast, but one other person I’d like to make special note of is Emily Wolf, who played the bitchy hostage, Jenna Davidson. Not only was she just beyond hot, but she’s also an incredibly gifted actress. She spends most of her time being a bitch in this film, but when her role called for it, she was able to be funny and dramatic as well, depending on the scene. She’s a very versatile performer, and did a great job with her character.

On a technical level, the film was incredibly well made. The camera work was excellent and the editing not only kept things moving along at a good pace, but the way it was all cut together really holds your attention. It never hangs on one scene too long or gives the impression that things are starting to drag. One scene that was edited together particularly well was the part where Zack’s girlfriend broke up with him and he was sitting alone in his apartment getting drunk. It really impressed me with how well it was all put together. The sound and lighting in the film were both great as well, with no scene too dark and no dialogue inaudible. All in all, the production quality here was just really, really good.

This film is an absolute blast. While the drama between Zack and his girlfriend Allison (Bethany Carol) can get a little heavy, those scenes are limited. The rest of the movie was just full on fun, and I would highly recommend checking it out if you get the chance.

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