The Movie Extra (2014) – By Philip Smolen

Bob (Chris Martin) is a movie extra. You know, he’s the guy who’s in a flick for 30 seconds and maybe, just maybe, gets to say one good smart aleck line to the hero or villain before the movie ignores him and shifts back to its main plot. Well, Bob is not having a good day. You see Hero Man (Sergio Soltero) is pursuing the bad guy and he commandeers Bob’s car. Well, that action may help Hero Man catch the scoundrel he’s after, but it ruins Bob’s life. The loss of his car forces Bob to miss his wedding, so his self-centered fiancé (Katy Gayle Marvel) breaks up with him and she takes up with the alter ego of Hero Man, Wayne Bruce (Soltero again). Bob is furious and now decides that his life’s mission is to destroy Hero Man. He becomes a super villain and now calls himself… Evil Man and he seeks guidance from his new sidekick “The Guy” (Michael Varde). Together, they believe that the best way to get rid of Hero Man is to find the movie’s screenwriter and get him to rewrite the movie. So the less than dynamic duo combines their limited talents and combs the entire celluloid landscape, all in an effort to change Bob’s cinematic fortunes.

“The Movie Extra” is a new indie film from writer/director F.C. Rabbath and it’s a surrealistic and satiric look at the life of a movie extra. Rather than give Bob the usual 30 seconds of screen time as most Hollywood superhero/action movies would, Rabbath goes on an odd tangent and breathes life into a movie character that’s not supposed to have any life at all. Bob is a throwaway and he’s simply there to move the plot forward. But Rabbath decides to bring his movie to a total stop, turn 180 degrees and focus instead on the life of this nebbish little man. The director wants to explore what the consequences of the movie hero’s actions are, something most superhero movies would never waste time on. The problem is that because Bob and The Guy are throwaway characters, they’re not the brightest bulbs in the electrical department (the fictional screenwriter didn’t waste a lot of thought on their development you know), so the ideas that they come up with to get even never work.

The main problem with “The Movie Extra” is that, like Bob, the movie is underdeveloped. Most of the jokes in the movie are painfully obvious and groan inducing (Guy tells Bob that he’ll help him, but he’ll need “big money”, so Bob pulls out an extremely large $1 bill). The pacing suffers because there are also far too many scenes of Bob and Guy aimlessly going from location to location, trying to determine what they should do. Several scenes go on far too long such as the subplot of Bob meeting his mother and father. Since they were not in the original film, they are ciphers. They have no attributes and merely sit around like mindless clones until Bob realizes that he can ‘create’ and he types up some character traits for them. While this idea is clever, the execution is drawn out and takes up far too much screen time and adds nothing.

The acting by Chris Martin, Sergio Soltero, Michael Varde and Katy Gayle Marvel, while acceptable, isn’t sly and humorous enough to help get the satire across. In a low budget indie lampoon like this, the acting really needs to sparkle and Rabbath’s thespians don’t reach for the giddy heights that they need to.

“The Movie Extra” explores a David Lynch-like central theme (a film within a film about the making of a film) but its execution and length fail to give it the sharp, satiric edge that it needs. It is a film that would have been better as a short since then it would only have enough time to be concerned with Bob’s immediate plight.

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