J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Feeding Mr. Baldwin: In the Doghouse

It’s like Weekend at Bernie’s, but with more self-help and dismemberment. An earnest sad sack is determined to make a good impression house-sitting for a success guru, but the parade of unwelcome visitors threatens to sabotage his ambitions. The dead bodies probably will not help either in writer-director Will Prescott’s Feeding Mr. Baldwin (trailer here), which launches today on VOD.

Lance Bryant wrote the book on success and Drew Delaney read every word. If the house-sitting goes well, he might have a chance to join “Team Lance” in a more permanent capacity. How hard can that be?  After all, his most demanding duty should be feeding Bryant’s bulldog, Mr. Baldwin. Then a mysterious crate arrives, which Mr. Baldwin starts chewing on, revealing a dead body inside.

In a state of panic, Delaney tries to dispose of the corpse, finding further misadventures in the process. Suddenly, all sorts of shady characters start dropping by, assuming Delaney is Bryant. His only potential ally is Kamal, an estranged school chum who happens to come calling for his door-to-door knife salesmen gig. (Foreshowing? Maybe so.)

At least Mr. Baldwin is low maintenance. In fact, Prescott largely squanders the cinematic possibilities of a very chill bulldog. Instead, he tries to mine comedy from some distinctly unfunny subjects, especially human trafficking. There are also a lot of gory gags that we have essentially seen before. Frankly, the only material that consistently lands involves Bryant’s success gospel, delivered with appropriately hammy conviction by Christopher B. Duncan.

The rest of Prescott’s cast of comedy troupe veterans can turn a snappy bit of dialogue, but they are hamstrung by the tonal inconsistencies. For some reason, Feeding is determined to find ways to be sentimental, despite the bloody bedlam. Dalton Leeb plugs away as the plugger Delaney, but Anil Margsahayam often looks bored to be there as Kamal, the reluctant accomplice.

Without an inspired Macguffin, it is hard to really stand out for midnight movie fans. Feeding plays every card in its hand, but it never comes together. Undoubtedly best seen with at a loud late night screening, Feeding Mr. Baldwin is now available on demand, from Devolver Digital Films.

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