Phase 4 Films // 2008 // 89 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // January 23rd, 2011
"It's not cute, Aunt Joni; people think it's amazing."
There's nothing like a good comedy, and Adventures of Power is nothing like a good comedy. Poorly written, and containing fewer laughs than A Serbian Film, writer/director/star Ari Gold's feature length directorial debut ranks as one of the most tedious pieces of dross I've ever had the misfortune to sit through.
The story itself is simple enough, and suggests the potential for a fun movie; it's just a shame it never materializes. Power (Ari Gold) is the town laughing stock. Having never had the good fortune to feel the thwack of stick against skin, Power has grown to be a highly proficient air-drummer, much to his father's dismay. But when he learns of an underground air-drumming contest in Mexico, Power runs away to pursue his destiny and win some much desired respect to boot. Though a police raid brings an abrupt end to the competition, Power isn't left disheartened for long and is soon on his way to New York City, home of the national air-drumming competition where a grand prize of $2,000 awaits the winner. Along the way Power is tutored by Carlos (Steve Williams), a former drummer who lost both his hands, and finds competition in the form of Dallas Houston (Adrian Grenier, Entourage), a professional musician with a secret passion for air-drumming.
The first mistake Adventures of Power makes is to assume its cast of "quirky" characters are in any way appealing. They're not. Power is, like so much of the film, a poor imitation of Napoleon Dynamite. It's one thing to be quirky, but without the material to make those quirks interesting, the characters just never connect. No matter how much Gold, Grenier and co. put into their roles, they just cannot fill the empty void that is the monotonous screenplay. Ah yes, the screenplay. Though it momentarily threatens to burst into life around the half-hour mark, when Power joins up with Carlos and his air-drumming crew, any hopes of Adventures of Power turning a corner soon peters out when a single moment of inspiration gives way to a sea of drudgery. Though Gold occasionally finds room for the odd deft quip, they're all too rare in this laugh free zone. A subplot involving Power's father (admirably played by Michael McKean of This is Spinal Tap fame), who leads a strike against the greedy owners of the plant he works at, just never pays off. For the plot thread to have been effective, it needed to have more screen time, but is instead relegated so far into the background that, by the time it reaches its pivotal moment, most audiences will have completely forgotten it. There's even a massively misjudged sequence detailing how Powers' would-be-girlfriend, Annie (Shoshannah Stern), lost her hearing; rather than amusing, it actually plays out as a disturbing moment of parental neglect. Worse still is a gag revolving around how deaf people sound Chinese when they talk.
To be fair to Gold, his direction shows a level of competence that is lacking in his writing. Though he apes Jared Hess a little too much, and never shows signs of developing a unique voice of his own, there are moments to admire here -- particularly a montage where Power walks the mean streets of Newark. The cast -- which includes a massively underused Jane Lynch (Glee) -- is hampered massively by Gold's script to such an extent that, despite their best efforts, the collective talents on display here are ultimately for naught. It's never nice to pour scorn on a film where so much heart has clearly been put into it, but heart alone is not enough to save Adventures of Power from the trashcan.
Presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, Adventures of Power is a fine looking DVD, with an excellent color palette, and an image that retains its sharpness throughout. Black levels are good, while there is also a good amount of detail evident. The 5.1 soundtrack possesses plenty of kick, with the climactic, air-drumming showdown really standing out.
Extras are standard fare. Of most interest are the short films included, which show the work of Ari Gold before he made the jump to feature length movies. The rest, including the deleted scenes and audio commentary, add little value to the set, beyond confirming the passion and belief all involved apparently share for this dire film.
Review content copyright © 2011 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Phase 4 Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Video
* Official Site