Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
DWF ’13: Steve Chong Finds Out
is Steve Chong so depressed? Maybe it is
due to feelings of inadequate facial hair.
If so, he probably picked the wrong friends. Nevertheless, the bearded slackers will do
their best to prevent their buddy from taking the final exit in Charlie LaVoy’s
Steve Chong Finds Out that Suicide is a
Bad Idea (trailer
screens today as part of Dances With Films at the TCL Chinese Theatres (where
they should have a long enough marquee to fit that title).
was never really suited to his job as a sushi chef, but getting fired hardly helps
his mental outlook. When his extreme
shyness sabotages what might have been his last best shot with Alice, the
waitress he has long carried a torch for, Chong is pretty much ready to cash in
his chips. However, he will first invite
over his goofball friends for a weekend at his parents’ lake house. Unable to hold his booze like they can, the
stink-faced Chong lets his plans slip during a drinking game. The next morning, he does not seem to
remember the episode, but his friends do.
some of the cleverest bits of SCFOTSIABI
involve their attempts to child-proof the lake house. LaVoy and screenwriter-co-star Owen Hornstein
III probably could have mined the suicide prevention efforts for more dark
physical humor. One cannot help wondering
what Jacques Tati’s evil twin could have done with this premise. Rather, LaVoy and his cast of filmmaking collaborators
are more interested with exploring themes of friendship and loyalty. That is all very nice, but it could have been
there is no question SCFOTSIABI
connects with the economic anxiety that has plagued the country (especially
recent college graduates) for the last six years or so. Chong may yet to find out about suicide, but
he understands the reality of a “soft recovery” all too well. Wisely, the film never overplays its hand
with fleetingly topical references, focusing instead on perennials bummers,
like crummy jobs, difficult bosses, and estranged friends.
Wong (who also edited SCFOTSIABI) is appropriately
awkward and tightly wound as Chong and develops some convincing chemistry with
the grizzly trio. Viewers will believe
they all have some long, complicated history together. While Hornstein and Tyler Russell’s constant
feuding gets a bit tiresome, standout Joe Sökmen has some memorable moments of
honesty as John, who passes for the mature one in this Rat Pack.
Speaking of lake houses, if Chong had recently
seen the Keanu Reeves-Sandra Bullock remake, it would also explain his suicidal
impulses. To the credit of the
co-producing cast, they largely avoid such sentimental excesses. While seemingly tailor made for Hangover comparisons, SCFOTSIABI is really more about avoiding
a truly awful morning after. A nice,
intermittently amusing film about friendship, Steve Chong Finds Out that Suicide is a Bad Idea screens this
afternoon (6/7) as part of the “Sweet Sixteen” Dances With Films in Hollywood.
Labels: DWF '13