Golon Films // 2008 // 71 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Carlton (Retired) // February 10th, 2010
Sometimes life can be a real riot.
Knock 'Em Dead, Kid would have fared better with a bigger budget.
Bret has just been accepted into college and wants nothing more than to leave his Connecticut hometown. With no job and two best friends who amount to nothing, sooner than later he finds himself in real trouble. Wearing masks, the three friends take it upon themselves to beat up and seriously injure a male whom they believe raped a friend. It isn't long before the local detective starts asking questions, and Bret must lie to everyone if he wants to keep his college dream a reality.
Knock 'Em Dead, Kid was written, directed, and edited by NYFA graduate Christopher Golon on a budget of a mere $3,000; an impressive feat in itself. For some perspective on how little money this is, Kevin Smith's Clerks was shot with a $30,000 budget. The difference is apparent, as this film screams low budget from beginning to end. Like Clerks, this film has a amateurish feel (in a good way), but also suffers from the many of the independent film clichés: voice over narration, white letters on a black screen for scene changes, and tilted camera angles to convey tense emotion. None of these devices are bad in and of themselves, but they have become too standard in low budget productions. The story is the strong point of this film and I believe writing is where Golon's talent should be put to work.
The film starts out with a man yelling at the camera, and we quickly learn that this is Bret's boss firing him. All is not lost, as Bret has been accepted into college and is looking to that as his way of escape. Getting fired is the least of Bret's problems, as he and his friends attack and hospitalize another person. The police get involved and Bret is rightly concerned about his future. During another outing with his friends, Bret meets an attractive, long time admirer named Trish and within days Bret acts upon his desires. Bret's girlfriend, Veronica, spots the two making out in the parking lot and is less than pleased. This new conflict, combined with the snooping detective from the previous assault, is more trouble than Bret can stomach. Now, his entire life is in turmoil and his friends aren't helping to alleviate the situation
The characters are normal people we have all known at one time. Bret is a likable guy, but has poor taste in friends. One friend, Jim, gives advice that is no help at all -- "Get high, get drunk, get laid." Bret's other friend, Willard, is constantly looking for trouble and generally finds it. He strikes a girl in public for being with someone other than himself, much to the disgust of Bret. However, Bret isn't without his own share of flaws. He cheats on his girlfriend and hangs with the wrong crowd, mostly out of boredom with his mundane life and wanting more excitement. The irony is that Bret knows better, but does so to feel alive and not appear uncool. Many of us have been in his shoes, living in a small town and dying to get out, barely having the know-how to make it happen.
Although the cast is made up of mostly newcomers, some of the actors do quite well. Dirk Julian (Bret) stands out from the bunch, his line delivery coming across as the most natural. The others are clearly amateurs, but sincere in their attempts. Overall, the lack of solid acting gives the film a less than professional feel.
The ultra low budget rears its ugly head the most in the presentation. Judging from the substantial amount of grain, my guess is the film was shot in 16mm. It's possible Golon was trying to add a sense of realism, but I'm just speculating. The editing could use some work, as many of the shots are choppy and volume levels are often inconsistent, even within scenes. This could also be attributed to the expensive cost of film stock and not having enough footage to smoothly assemble a scene. Again, speculation. Golon's strong point is writing, not editing.
I can't say I necessarily liked Knock 'Em Dead, Kid, but I wasn't bored. I appreciate the time and effort it took to make this film on such a miniscule budget. With a short running time, it won't take too much of your day to give it a look, but don't expect a well-polished piece of work.
My DVD was a screener copy, so there were no extras to comment on.
It must be stressed this film was made for next to nothing. Although not a great film, it's a good first effort by all involved. You get what you pay for.
Knock 'Em Dead, Kid is worth seeing, if you are curious what someone can accomplish with $3,000.
Guilty of budget restrictions.
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Scales of Justice
* Bottom 100 Discs: #52
Studio: Golon Films
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 71 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated