Year Released: 2011
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 110 minutes
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Ted Wilson (Landon Sheetz) and George Washington the Pirate (Joey Loboda) are best friends. They live in suburbia in a house with musician Peter Shaffer (Mark Schulte) and the enigmatic Wang Smith (Tyler James Ask). One day Ted and George decide to form a band, and the rest of the tale is one massive tangle of insanity as Ted, George and Wang perform street concerts at the local cul-de-sac, fall in and out of friendship and generally navigate their absurd existence.
Tyler James Ask’s Arrgh! A Pirate Story is less a movie than it is a collection of random gibberish… which is not necessarily a bad thing. Essentially anything and everything is fodder for a joke, and similar to my own personal sense of humor, it’s more a process of exploding joke grenades; the more humor you throw at any given moment increases the odds that something will be funny… even if most of the shrapnel misses. At its best moments, the film is like a live-action A Town Called Panic, though it doesn’t maintain the comic momentum of that brilliant film.
At 110 minutes, it does feel like an endurance challenge at certain parts of the “narrative,” mainly because when a film is as loose as this one, and random, you’re not really connected to any type of story arc to look forward to resolving, and things just seem to keep going and going. At times it feels like a collection of short episodes, that arguably could stand on their own given the context of an overall series, patched together into one major piece.
Having said that, while the narrative structure doesn’t seem to exist when you’re in the experience of watching the film, when I think back on it, it did present an idea, the creation of a rock band among the friends, and eventually resolve that story. On top of that, while finding the entire film to be an exercise in gibberish, I did have fun with it. It reminded me of when my friends and I would make videotape “shorts” in college; we lacked production design, good camerawork and competent equipment (editing involved two VCRs connected to each other), but somehow our imagination filled in the blanks. In this case, the work is complemented by some fun visual effects and informed by years of stylistic cinema, elevating it above such a simple nostalgic memory of collegiate amateur filmmaking.
So where does that leave us, friends? Simply, this isn’t for everyone. I’m not even entirely sure it should be experienced by anyone who is sober. However, I enjoyed much of the humor found in the film, and appreciated how far it goes in being absurd for its own sake. I don’t necessarily think it is a “good” movie, but I did enjoy it. I wish it wasn’t so damn long, but maybe if it was just a short film, it’d be even easier to dismiss.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.
Posted on October 20, 2011 in Reviews by Mark Bell
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