Name a minimum wage job that isn’t an insulting raw nerve of nauseating irritation. Yet, Noll (Peter Sean Maloney), a good-natured but vacuous cipher, seems to have embarked upon a grand tour to find the perfect minimum wage job. Blissfully oblivious to the subtle as a sledgehammer to the forehead romantic entreaties dropped by his best friend Milly (a winsome, in a Goth sort of way, Amber Phillips), Noll gets hired — then promptly fired from — an eclectic and dizzying series of these mindless paycheck producers. In the meantime, Greg (Patrick McCartney), their one-time friend and Milly’s high school sweetheart, has fallen on rough times. Once a smarmy, babe-an-hour, uber-casting agent scumbag, Greg made the mistake of reneging on a deal with Zeke Bleak (“Twin Peak’s” Michæl Anderson), a diminutive Agent of Darkness with a healthy revenge streak. Faster than you can say “good coffee,” Zeke engineers Greg’s ouster from his agency and soon the obnoxious lout, after losing his fancy car and ostentatious mansion, finds himself begging his parents for money…and groveling for the same low pay and lower self-esteem jobs to which Noll and Milly cling. Eventually, these divergent storylines, with help from a number of comically overwrought supporting characters, braid together to form this engaging charmer of a film.
In these digitized days of backyard and desktop “filmmaking,” it’s somehow oddly reassuring to find a real no-frills film like this at No Dance. Brian O’Malley’s simple but highly comical “Minimum Wage” won’t win any awards for its extremely basic photography; nor does it need to as it instead relies on old-fashioned adroit storytelling, great dialogue, interesting characters, and winning performances — remember those? — to entertain its audience. It’s a proven, if increasingly ignored mix; one that’s lifted countless filmmakers out of the depths of their own minimum wage day-job Hells. Here’s hoping that “Minimum Wage” does the same for O’Malley and company.
Posted on February 9, 2000 in Reviews by Merle Bertrand
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