Picture Park // 2004 // 12 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // March 18th, 2005
It's Carol, she's always been a good size...
Carol runs a diner in Las Vegas. She serves homey meals with a smile and a decidedly snide wit. Her friends include the larger than life lounge singer Red Peters and the local laundry man, Hoya Foya. Carol longs for both love and friendship, and uses her sunny disposition to hide an inner loneliness and desire to belong. One day, Carol invents the Joe Blob, a tasty confection loaded with her special "creaming" fluid. Offering to give Red Peter's one, the crooner just can't resist. He keels over, still and lifeless, after sampling the sweet. Turns out Carol misunderstood the broken English of Hoya Foya's Asian accent. He had said cleaning fluid, not creaming fluid. Stupid Carol used it in her Joe Blobs anyway. As a result, Red may be dead. Or just writing a song while in suspended animation.
Using the classic burlesque ideal that a large man in drag is devastatingly funny, and spicing up that sensibility with a little "oh so chic" post-millennial PC gay irony, Carol is a surreal bit of silly posing as a failed sitcom pilot. How creator Greg Roman hoped any channel would cotton to this crackpot presentation is a little disconcerting. Carol is not classically funny in the setup/punchline style of most TV. Instead, the humor is based in innuendo and the pun, an attempt to be dirty and ditzy at the same time. A lot of Carol is scatological and sophomoric, from the sweet treat our restaurateur offers everyone (the infamous Joe Blob) to the lyrics to many of Red's songs (Peters is a real life novelty song stylist with tunes like "Holy Shit, It's Christmas" and "Rocket in My Pocket" as part of his jokey juvenile repertoire). Some of it is just so strange as to turn ridiculous, yet every once in a while, a well written bit of repartee will jump out and coldcock you. This makes Carol both sparkling and slight, a mishmash of moods that never really successfully syncs up.
But what we don't get, after 12 short minutes, is a reason to stay interested in Carol's continuing adventures. There's a one-note facet to the story, and each character is defined by a single personality trait -- Carol is overly optimistic, Red is redolent, Hoya is a dumb immigrant, etc. There is nothing that can be built on, no long-lasting concept that can carry the show through several more episodes. Instead, Carol is a sketch, a nice example of tone and technique taken to its only, logical, shot film end. It looks marvelous in its letterboxed logistics (1.85:1 non-anamorphic, to be exact), and has a nice Dolby Digital Stereo sound to boot. But this is nothing more than portfolio fodder, a pleasant diversion that may get Roman a couple of more acting/directing/writing jobs, but nothing more long term (and the presentation on DVD verifies this -- there is not a single bonus item, or a menu -- to prove its consumer oriented product value).
So if you are interested in seeing a man play a matron for the sake of a few dirty jokes, you could do a heck of a lot worse than Carol. While funny in a kind of Milton Berle meets Waylon Flowers and Madam manner, it's hard to imagine this experiment working beyond a single silly serving.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Picture Park
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 12 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated