Saturday, November 18, 2017

House of Pancakes (1997)

Director: Onur Tukel

Writer: Onur Tukel

Composer: ???

Starring: Erik Frey, Kristin Miani, David Wade, Nat Taylor, Kirk Wilson, Larry Pallatta, Portia Thomas, Jenny Morris, Kenneth Lentz, Diane Eidmann

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A dramatically comical romantic horror film.

Plot: Joey's first date with Dailey is a candlelit dinner at his house he shares with three roommates and nothing goes well.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Most first dates don't end with a dead body.  That's a better tagline than what they went with.  This is not a horror movie in the slightest unless you classify horror as something that goes horribly wrong.  This picture is directly influenced by CLERKS (1994) and PULP FICTION (1994).  If you're more than just familiar with those two films then you will recognize characters, situations, dialogue and an overall vibe to certain moments. Now, despite all of that, writer/director Tukel (who will later go on to make DING-A-LING-LESS (2001) and BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYS (2017)) does a great job.  It's a good first movie.  I'm impressed.  Probably because it's a first film, it's got issues that keep it from being an excellent first film.  It relies way too much on the influences of Smith & Tarantino.  But this is from '97 and how many of us saw those movies back then and didn't get inspired?

I can't fault Tukel much for that because he not only made a movie but he kept the filmmaking ball rolling for twenty more years with an additional ten movies under his belt.  The picture is often funny so until someone started killing someone else, this played out as a comedy much like CLERKS (plus it's in B&W).  It's only in the last twenty minutes that shit gets more serious but it still hangs onto the humor.  Again, I fail to see how this even touches on horror.  Anyway, since the film relies so much on humor, the picture has a tough time transitioning into the seriousness of murder and it doesn't work well enough.  Well, it doesn't if they were going for hard drama.  Maybe the intention was to keep it light.  There's a stretch in the last act where it feels like it could go either way but then it's still suffering from not committing to one or the other.  The performances are good but keeping the camera on the actors for too long has the characters overstaying their welcome (like when Koto shows up at the door and won't shut up).  It probably sounds like I didn't dig the picture but I really did and I would definitely recommend this to Kevin Smith fans and anyone else interested in a good, independent, low budget comedy that's heavy on dialogue but has likeable characters. 

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