Monday, December 29, 2008

Movie #33: Kabluey

Kabluey, an Austin-made film about a slacker (of course) who comes to help out his sister-in-law and her kids while his brother's tour in Iraq is extended, is one of those strange films where the sum is far greater than its parts. It's a decidedly low-budget indie comedy...and it shows. Some of the acting is quite bad at times; the lead lacks charisma; the direction and cinematography is amateurish; and several attempts at humor fall so flat that it's hard to comprehend why they weren't just cut. In spite of these glaring weaknesses, Kabluey somehow manages to rise above itself and be...decent.

Written, directed and starring Scott Prendergast, Kabluey's humor is mostly the result of a visual gimmick---a faceless, blue costume that Prendergast is forced to wear as a part-time job. The sight of this depressed, blue, Smurf-like creature on the side of a highway is amusing, but this isn't your standard indie slacker comedy looking for cheap laughs. For one, it's not all that funny. In truth, the film is more an examination of the effect of the war and a bad economy than it is a comedy about a guy in a funny costume. And that aspect of the movie works, and works well. Lisa Kudrow as the wartime wife turns in an excellent, dramatic performance, one which just last week earned her a surprising Satellite Award nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy---even though her performance evokes more tears than laughs.

Kabluey earns points for not being the film it easily could have been. It also earns points for being an earnest effort by its writer-director-star Prendergrast. His talent is rough, and he should probably stay behind the camera instead of in front of it, but he may very well make a great movie one day (the New York Times and others already think he has). Unfortunately, while the end result is altogether unexpected and somewhat redemptive, getting there just isn't a lot of fun.

Grade: 5/10


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