Judge Jonathan Weiss laughs at this poor geek, then struggles to keep his own Klingon forehead attached before heading out to the big sci-fi con.
His knowledge is your misery.
Thank heaven for movies that are only a little over an hour long. This isn't being facetious. There used to be a time when most movies ended satisfactorily after only an hour and a half. Good movies. Strong movies. But something happened in the last decade. What with directors becoming more powerful and DVDs giving them the opportunity to show their version less encumbered by Hollywood brass, movies are now typically two and a half to three hours long. Butt numbingly long. Of course that doesn't mean they're better movies. Many of them could do with a good amount of cutting; they might even become stronger movies because of it.
That's what is so refreshing about a movie like Film Geek. Shot on a shoestring budget with only a handful of actors, Film Geek is a simple story simply told. It's not Citizen Kane or even Clerks, but it is a nice change from the special effect laden celluloid most common today. Obviously other people thought so too since it garnered quite a bit of buzz on the festival circuit. Let's see if it's deserved.
Facts of the Case
Scotty Pelk works at a video store bothering both customers and fellow staff members with his constant patter on movies, filmmaking, and cinematic trivia. To make matters worse, it doesn't help any that his voice is a cross between Urkel (from TV's Family Matters) and Rain Man. The only other endeavor in life he enjoys is the web site he created devoted to his passion, offering up reviews, essays, and insights—the likes of which nobody in the entire world has bothered to visit. Back at the video store Scotty's boss finally fires him, fed up with all the complaints he's getting. This sets Scotty adrift into a world of regular guys and girls—in other words, situations in which he barely knows how to function.
Scotty Pelk is a stereotype. He's every nerdy thing that pops into your head whenever you think of the words "film geek." Go on, grab your checklist and let's see how many we'll tick off. Socially awkward? Check. Bad dresser? Check. Annoying voice? Check. Lacks knowledge in most any other area? Check. No girlfriend? Check. Mocked by strangers on a continual basis? Check and double check. Chronic masturbator? Well, that goes without saying. But then, who isn't?
Okay, so Scotty Pelk is destined for the atomic-wedgie hall of fame, the question is, do we actually care? Surprisingly the answer is yes. Though Melik Malkasian does tend to overdo the slapstick elements, he still brings a lot of warmth and sensitivity to the character. In other words you might not want to hang out with Scotty yourself but that doesn't stop you from hoping that he finds a place where he feels like he belongs.
That place might very well be with Nico (Tyler Ganon), the girl of Scotty's dreams. What's nice is that she isn't the typical unapproachable blonde goddess you'd expect to find in this role (instead, that honour goes to Michelle Garner's Cindi). Nico is pretty, cinema savvy, artistic, open, and not nearly as judgmental as most everyone else in the movie. You can tell because she doesn't instantly shoot poor Scotty down. Of course it doesn't hurt that the filmmakers soon use the tried and true method of putting him close at hand when a particularly obnoxious boy toy tries to hit on Nico; though it's doubtful that using Scotty as an imaginary boyfriend will stop any guy from thinking he's got a chance. But then that's the way these kind of movies go.
What Film Geek lacks in originality it makes up for in conviction. It's obvious that the filmmakers, having worked for many years in video stores themselves, have a real affinity for people like Scotty. It probably wouldn't be too much of a stretch to believe that outside of some of the overtly stereotypical nerdish qualities, they were very much like Scotty themselves. That's also why if you consider yourself something of a film geek the chances are you'll forgive some of the wooden acting and seen-it-before story conventions and feel an affinity for him too. What you might not forgive is the ending—which won't be spoiled here—but it's suffice to say that after all the other indignities Scotty faces, this one might just be the cruelest cut of all.
One last thought on Film Geek in particular and independent movies in general; what's with all the scenes spotlighting the hero's naked ass? It's one thing if it's a movie called "Study My Naked Ass" or if it's really needed for the story, or even if it's an ass you're just dying to see, but 9 times out of 10 all you're left with is a visual of someone's sorry ass burned directly into your retina. Oh, the humanity.
Film Geek looks and sounds like an independent movie. Though in colour, the visuals are nothing to get overly excited about. The picture, however, is clean and the audio is clear. Extras include extended scenes and a short "making of" featurette. The highlight, however, is a (really) short film also starring Melik Malkasian. It's called The Auteur and it's pretty darn funny. The premise is simple: a famous director of pornographic films sits behind the mike offering up a DVD commentary on his latest fleshy opus. Let's just say it gives the name David Copperfield a whole new meaning. Check it out.
If you know the difference between Citizen Kane and Citizen Ruth then it's a good bet that you're going to like Film Geek. The same goes if you've ever found yourself checking out your friends' DVD libraries and realizing how disgusted you are that most of their selections are full framed.
Scotty Pelk is free to go to the nearest repertory cinema, where he will no doubt curl up with a bag of popcorn and feel the love emanating from the screen.
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