At a time when story seems to be going out the window more and more for big blockbuster fare, it’s nice to come across a script that dares to be different. Back in the day scribes like David Mamet and Kevin Smith prided themselves on creating a script rife with decent dialogue, cool characters and an engaging story long before the cameras even rolled. That’s what is so refreshing about the new film "Oconomowoc" – it dares to begin with a script rife with catchy chatter, quirky characters and an everyman tale that brings the audience along for the bumpy ride.
Lonnie Washington is a confused adult who is without direction. So he does what every man who goes through disillusionment does – he moves back home. Problem everyone around him is even more directionless then he is. There’s his aimless and strange stepfather Todd, his clueless best friend Travis and even his mom seems to have no sympathy for the obviously apathetic Lonnie. His only solace comes in the form of very forward gal Mallory, a pharmacist’s assistant whom he meets picking up medication for his demanding mom. Can Lonnie make this newfound love work? Will he find career direction in Travis’s odd new T-Shirt idea? And will the bulbous bodied Todd finally close that rank polka-dot bathrobe?
"Oconomowoc" sounds like a slacker comedy and in many ways it is, but through brilliant use of dialogue and character it rises way above the standard stuff. A mixture of the speed of Mamet, the dirty wit of Smith, but all told at a "Napoleon Dynamite" like pace, writer/director Andy Gillies constructs clever dialogue that thankfully never alienates. It reminded me a lot of early Smith actually with pop culture jive and mindless minutiae, but Gillies also uses a much more somber tone to give his vision the true ups and downs of real life. His cast hammers home the desired desperation, especially lead man Brendan Marshall-Rashid whose wry delivery fits perfectly with the material. Plus I like the inane yet more grounded Zach Galifianakis-like Andrew Rozanski as the creepy Todd, the apathetic Gillies himself as the lag best friend and the sassy Cindy Pinzon as the woman out to make something of Lonnie.
Listen, for those looking for spectacle beyond the norm at the cinema, this one is not going to be your cup of tea. "Oconomowoc" is a small slice of life tale that encompasses all the highs and lows of small town life. But in its desire to simply be there’s a learning lesson within it’s sardonic walls – even at its most absurd life is what you make it.
"OCONOMOWOC" OPENS IN SELECT THEATERS APRIL 19 FROM WHAT PRODUCTIONS.