THE FORMULA

5 Stars
Year Released: 2002
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 53 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:

It’s your average day on an unknown planet’s surface, filled to the brim with forestry. A Jedi lands there, searching for his brother who crashed on that planet and is being guarded by a sworn enemy. He informs his base of his whereabouts, receives directions on where to go, and begins walking. He doesn’t take more than a few steps before he sees that enemy…a Sith!! Lightsabers flare up, but…Cut!!! As it turns out, Uncle George isn’t the one that’s unsatisfied by the action on camera so far.
Meet Tom “Servo” Harrison (Chris Hanel), fulfilling a dream of his to make what he sees as the perfect fan film. And by perfect, that also means berating one of the actors for using a TV remote as a communicator. However, that “actor” also happens to be his friend, Greg (Abe Peterka). Greg’s not happy with the way Tom’s been treating him and neither are Zarth (Justin Whitlock) and Jenny (Rebecca Peterka). After a harsh spate of words from Jenny, she and Greg walk away (Zarth steps toward a tree to take a leak), leaving Tom to pack up the equipment for the time being. It’s hard directing a fan film, huh?
That’s just the beginning of an awesome story about how Tom decided upon doing this, along with a look at his friends who support him all the way, but have had enough, judging from the likes of the beginning. There’s so much to describe here and so many great moments, that I’m going to try my best to do what I can for you folks, without revealing it all because a lot of the comedy in “The Formula” is best seen, rather than being read about.
The timing, writing, and the actors bring it all together so well that you’d probably swear that this has to be some sort of a documentary. Surprisingly, no. To me, it just seems like a good example of when everything works to the advantage of everyone involved. For example, the many references and homages found in “The Formula” fit very well. There’s some good conflict with two Trekkies named James (James Kropa) and Stewart (Michael Mulherin), that culminates in a great scene (which mixes in The Matrix, but not before a revamp of an “Emperor’s New Groove quote) where Tom, or rather Jenny (“Men and their egos,” she exclaims before taking over because of Tom’s hesitation) who asks them to help with the lightsaber effects for the fanfilm. John Cusack is also well taken care of with homages to High Fidelity. Also, when cash is paid to Tom over some Star Wars comic books damaged by the Trekkies with a thrown Slushee (not on purpose, of course but crimes committed require payment), Greg receives some of the cash and after hearing Tom’s reason over why he’s receiving the money, he chimes in with a kick-ass voice impersonation of Sean Connery. Great stuff!!
“The Formula” will be a great surprise to those seeking out a good Star Wars fanfilm that’s not made up exclusively of angst-filled Jedi, stormtroopers, over the top villains, or whatever the norm is nowadays. A great addition to “The Formula”, which you’ll find on the site where you can download the film, is the audio commentary by co-director Chris Hanel, also downloadable. In it, so many details are discussed, such as how certain things came about in the script, which scenes remained intact, the various references found in the film, and so much more. You really get your time’s worth in this one.
So go ahead and download “The Formula”. It’s an excellent way to spend 53 minutes.

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Posted on October 3, 2003 in Reviews by
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