The Touchstone (2012) – By Josh Samford

During the 1980s, the world was formally introduced to the slapstick world of teenage sex comedies with movies like Porky’s. These titles were crass, offensive, and they completely pushed the boundaries of what was considered to be acceptable talk for young actors. In the late nineties, this world was once again revisited with the American Pie series. Although those movies have essentially fizzled out, the latest entry reunited the cast of the first movie, but it still wasn’t a massive success story. The world of raunchy teen comedies isn’t likely to go anywhere anytime soon, even if there is a current lull within the marketplace. Although most of these movies are now relegated to the low budget straight-to-video market, we all know that it won’t be long before another similar title comes along and catches all of our imaginations. The Touchstone attempts to be the independent successor of the previously-mentioned films, and although it doesn’t quite reach those levels of success, it does turn out to be a very fun little low budget comedy. As with any film within this genre, it won’t be the most technically advanced film you are going to see this year, but it is far better than it probably should be.

The Touchstone is a general teen comedy that follows around three guys who are desperate to lose their virginity. Sound familiar? Well, it is. However, this is only the very basic premise of the movie. Following in the footsteps of classic teen comedy Zapped, there’s a slight science fiction edge to The Touchstone. When teenager Ryan discovers a native American fetish on a local mountainside, he discovers that this seemingly mundane rock-carved object carries with it a massive amount of power. The fetish, when held in the hands by any person, makes that man or woman completely irresistible to any potential mates. After a bit of experimenting, Ryan and his two best friends discover that the fetish only seems to work on virgins. This group hopes that they can use the fetish in order to lose their own virginity, and soon their mission begins. However, this trio will soon find that even with a all-powerful fetish in their hands: the game of love is far more complicated than simply laying down in a bed.

The dialogue that is found in The Touchstone is certainly big key to its success. While the writing isn’t quite on level with David Mamet, it does manage to prove itself via the level of wit thrown into the script. At times it may seem as if the movie is trying to skirt by on its shock value, as you will hear very young actors spitting out lines that are seemingly more offensive than dialogue written by Quentin Tarantino, but the humor is smart enough that it becomes obvious what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish with the movie. The characters speak with a certain level of realism, and although their dialogue is vulgar at times, the writing packs genuine punchlines and the expletives never feel forced. Indeed, there are many humorous and completely vulgar lines of dialogue used throughout the course of the movie, but the nature of the performances are really where the movie shines. The acting nearly seems improvised at times, with the actors often talking over one another, but the dialogue is witty enough that it seems possible that this was all entirely scripted from the start. Granted, not all performers, or even scenes for that matter, were created equal, and there is no doubt that there are numerous scenes that play out as being completely awkward. For the most part though, The Touchstone is wholly surprising in the level of professionalism on display.

The Touchstone isn’t without its negative aspects, this is something that audiences can be sure of. Being that comedy is so completely subjective, it is a sure thing that not every viewer is going to walk away seeing the same things that I do within this movie. From time to time, the performances do delve into amateur territories. When actors or actresses should be grimacing or showing anger, smiles are very noticeable on their faces. Lines of dialogue often come out as stilted, and this can often ruin dramatic moments and surely remove audiences from the movie. Unfortunately, this is par for the course when dealing with independent productions. These are filmmakers who likely had little or no budget at all, so getting people to show up without pay is an achievement by itself. Still, there are audiences who aren’t familiar with no-budget aesthetics, and there is no doubt that they will cringe at these tiny moments throughout the movie. For those who are a bit more forgiving, they may find a very solid little comedy hiding beneath the rough. If nothing else, audiences can look at this indie comedy and see some solid technical knowledge, some fun comedic writing, interesting performances from a very young cast, and a tremendous amount of burgeoning talent. Without over hyping the movie, this is a fun little feature and after a little bit of polishing, the filmmakers could very well find a much larger audience for their work. If you have the opportunity, these are filmmakers worth supporting. You can read more about it via the official website:
http://touchstonethemovie.com