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Case Number 14366

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Never Say Macbeth

Gold Cap Films // 2007 // 87 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // August 26th, 2008

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All Rise...

Jupiter Laughs! There, Judge Jim Thomas said it. No worries. Oh, wrong Scottish play.

The Charge

When a science teacher brings the curse of Macbeth upon his ex-girlfriend's play, he must battle superstitious new age actors and a crazed director to win her back.

Opening Statement

There's legend, and then there's fact. Legend has it that Shakespeare's Macbeth was cursed by witches, angry because Shakespeare used real spells for the dialogue of the three witches. Looking at the facts, the play has certainly had its share of problems. Consider:

• During an eighteenth century performance in Amsterdam, an actor replaced his prop dagger with a real one and killed a fellow actor during the performance.
• Olivier, while rehearsing the title role, was almost killed by a falling light.
• Charlton Heston was severely burned when his tights caught fire (kerosene had spilled on them).
• During the run of a 1942 production with John Gielgud, three actors died and the costume/set designer committed suicide.
• During rehearsals for a production in the early '80s, Christopher Plummer slipped and fell onstage, breaking a tooth and cracking his jaw.

In any event, actors are loath to say the name of the play, particularly in a theater; they usually refer to it as "The Scottish Play." An episode of The Simpsons parodied the curse by having Ian McKellen struck by lightning after saying the name. There are a number of cleansing rituals; one, attributed to Michael York, requires that the offender walk around the theatre three times, spit over his left shoulder, say an obscenity, and then wait to be invited back into the theater.

Danny (Joe Tyler Gold, Fartman: Caught in a Tight Ass, which amazingly is not a porn movie but is based on a Howard Stern skit) wrote Never Say Macbeth, a romantic comedy built around the twin poles of the curse and the fact that actors just aren't quite right. The film has been brought to DVD by Gold Cap Films.

Facts of the Case

Danny (Joe Tyler Gold), a young science teacher from Ohio, has just been dumped by his aspiring actress girlfriend, Ruth (Ilana Turner, Big Love). He follows her to L.A., where she is auditioning for the role of Lady Macbeth at the Zodiac Theater. Encountering a group of actors waiting to audition, he promptly screws up: "Are these the auditions for Macbeth?" The actors freak, convinced that Danny has cursed the production.

The actors force Danny to perform a cleansing ritual, but before he can finish, he is mistakenly dragged in to audition. Although he explains that he is just looking for Ruth, Jason (Alexander Enberg, Gia), the astrology-obsessed director, mistakes his story for passionate acting, and casts Danny as Witch #1. Making matters worse, Ruth is much more interested in the play's Macbeth, Scott Deadle (Mark Deklin, Herbie Fully Loaded), a handsome sitcom star fresh out of rehab. Reluctantly, Danny accepts the role so he can be closer to Ruth. Now he has to figure out how to act.

The curse of Macbeth kicks in and the ectoplasm hits the supernatural fan. While rehearsing, Ruth starts coughing and choking from smoke that no one else can see. Later, Danny sees a Pirate King, but no one else can see or hear this pirate. When Danny confides in Tamara (Tania Getty, Fartman: Caught in a Tight Ass), a new-age actress playing Witch #2, she squeals with delight. Tamara has always sensed ghosts in the theater; she even explains their presence: The last time someone said "Macbeth" in the Zodiac, a fire during a repertory season featuring Macbeth, Pirates of Penzance, and The Importance of Being Earnest killed the entire repertory company. Danny scoffs at the idea; in their ensuing argument, Tamara accidentally says "Macbeth." Before she can do the cleansing ritual, they are both dragged to rehearsal. This time, both Danny and Tamara see a ghost—Algernon Moncrieff from The Importance of Being Earnest.

While Tamara goes ghost hunting, Danny searches for a scientific explanation for the strange occurrences while continuing his pursuit of Ruth. The wooing goes horribly awry during a romantic picnic with Ruth, when she ends up possessed by the ghost of the Porter, a slobbering, inebriated man. More actors become possessed, the production spins wildly out of control as curtain time draws ever closer, and Danny must use his knowledge of science to stop the curse of Macbeth.

The Evidence

On one hand, the romantic part of the movie is pretty much paint-by-numbers—you see how things are going to play out a mile away. The comedy part of the movie, on the other hand, is delightful.I've done just enough community theater over the years to appreciate that the collection of egomaniacs, malcontents, and borderline psychotics trodding the boards in this movie are but slightly exaggerated. Better still, even though many of the characters are drawn rather broadly, the actors inject enough energy into those parts to hold your attention. The result is a good-natured satire of the acting profession.

The female leads are both solid. Ilana Turner is hysterical when she's possessed by the drunken, lecherous Porter, staggering about and groping herself. In a nice touch, the possessing spirits—all actors, mind you—can only take control when stage lights are on the possessee. Tania Getty invests Tamara with just enough inner serenity to keep the new-age patter from making her sound like a complete flake. Joe Gold's Danny is the weak link, but that appears to be more of a writing problem than an acting one (see the Rebuttal Witnesses). In the supporting characters, particular standouts are Alexander Enberg as Jason, the director, whose utter conviction in his vision is reminiscent of no less a fellow visionary than Ed Wood, and Scott Conte as Vinnie, the Italian actor/self-help guru who keeps pushing Danny to be all he can be. He's Macbeth's understudy, and naturally, he ends up having to take to the stage on opening night. Imagine, if you will, Tony Soprano performing Shakespeare. Fuggedaboutit!

The disc packs a lot of extras. There are a few deleted scenes, a brief set of outtakes, and the commentary. The commentary track is informative, but somewhat dry; the three participants never get into a conversational groove. Oddly, the commentary track isn't quite synched with the picture, which is a little distracting during pauses in which the dialogue comes through. Video is OK; there's a bit more grain than one would expect from a newer film. Audio is not quite as good; voices are a little muffled at times, and the score could stand to be dialed back a notch or two.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

As noted earlier, the romantic part of the plot is pretty standard. Part of the problem is that the character of Danny is a little bit too bland. The idea is that the blandness accentuates the eccentricities of everyone else, but he ends up so bland that it's impossible to believe that Ruth would have ever been interested in him, in Ohio or anywhere else. As a result, it's Danny that ends up looking like a caricature, not the actors.

Closing Statement

Admittedly, this is a film with a somewhat limited audience. But if you've spent any time at all around actors, this is a fun film.

The Verdict

Mercy is hardly strained at all in rendering this verdict: Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 84
Audio: 82
Extras: 80
Acting: 84
Story: 81
Judgment: 83

Perp Profile

Studio: Gold Cap Films
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Unrated
• Independent
• Romantic Comedies

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary Track with Writer/Star Joe Tyler Gold, Producer/Co-star Tammy Caplan, and Director C.J. Prouty
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Slide Show
• Trailer


• IMDb
• Official Site
• Wikipedia: The Scottish Play

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