Thursday, January 02, 2014

Ryan's Reviews on OVERCROWDED and JACK JIMMINY: THE STORY OF A PORNSTAR EXTRA



OVERCROWDED (2009) / JACK JIMMINY: THE STORY OF A PORNSTAR EXTRA (2010)

 
So once again I’ve received an email from one Mr. Timothy Cox, a frequent subject on this here review site, asking me to review a few more movies he’s been in. And once again, I don’t mind at all because I’ve pretty much loved just about everything he’s done that I’ve had the opportunity to watch. I’m not going to link to all of the reviews individually here, because damn that’s a lot now (he might need his own category soon if this keeps up), but I will link to a search of his films. According to the IMDb, as of today, 12/29/2013, Tim has acted in 88 things… and I’m sure there’s at least a handful that haven’t made their way onto IMDb yet. What I just can’t for the life of me understand is this: why is he always a supporting actor? It’s so rare that I’ve seen him in a “main” role, and he’s so damn good, I mean overshadowing-the-leads-good good, so why does he keep getting regulated to the background? Tim, next time I make a movie, if I have the budget to fly you out to Texas, you’re in a major part. We’ll call these seven (!) reviews so far your audition.
Overcrowded
Description (from the IMDb):
A television series about four of the most horrible people you’ll ever meet who share an apartment and terrorize their neighbors.
Major Cast:
Greg Vorob as Greg, Dan Conrad as Dan, Marc Seidenstein as Marc, Paul White as Paul,Ian Campbell Dunn as Steven Hansen, Jennifer Zigler as Claire Hansen, Timothy J. Coxas Allen Smith / The Doctor
Special Features:
None (Online Screener)
For Sale Version Includes: None
Written by Dan Conrad and Greg Vorob
Directed by Dan Kowlaski

According to the description on YouTube, OVERCROWDED is “The greatest TV pilot ever made to not be picked up by a network.” While I’m sure I could probably find one or two other pieces of TV that were left to the wayside that might be a bit grander than OC, this was pretty damn funny. OC follows four crazy roommates that anyone would curse living anywhere near. They are really more caricatures than characters, and OC is really more of a parody of zany, wacky sitcoms than an actual sitcom, as the situations, plots, and just overall show is just way too over-the-top to be taken seriously as something that any network would expect to put on the air (except may Comedy Central, or Cartoon Network’s [adult swim]).
The roommates, in all their weird, chest-haired glory.
The roommates, in all their weird, chest-haired glory.
Watching OC I really am left to wonder if this was ever a serious attempt at a television pilot, or just a short film that wanted to lampoon the sitcom style. As I said before, it really is way too over-the-top to ever be taken seriously by anyone other than the fringe of television (and in ’09 when this was made I don’t think there were that many options for craziness like this), and it just seems to me to be more a fun short film that found a genre to play in. If it was a serious attempt at a pilot, the production quality may have doomed it as much as anything else; the video quality is very low (even for 2009), the audio is not horrible but it is certainly not crisp or clean, and the production design is very pedestrian overall. What OC looks like, to me, is a public-access attempt at a sitcom, a show made with no money trying to follow the style of network shows. Because it looks public access, does that mean OC is bad? In production quality, yes it is lacking for sure (I mean: that apartment is DISGUSTING and if I were an actor being asked to roll on the floor I would ask for shots first). In comedic talent, no; OC is pretty damned funny throughout.
A lei does not make one a zen master.  That takes a bonsai.
A lei does not make one a zen master. That takes a bonsai.
All of your main characters are super-quirky in their own right (Dan is a wanna-be writer who fancies fun costumes, Greg likes to step into people’s identities, Marc thinks of himself a Zen teacher and bonsai master, and Paul has a bad habit of murdering people), and they live in a quirky world with sitcom stylings throughout. It’s the apartment complex in the big city, the new neighbors move in, hilarity ensues. Each of the four major characters gets their own story arc, which is nice, and each is a little weirder than the last. The acting in OC is somewhat hit or miss… Greg reminds me Jason Segel in both his physical appearance and his comedic delivery, and that’s not a bad thing. Dan’s timing is a bit flatter; he’s funny, but his character and his lines are just so odd that it takes really perfect set up to deliver them with the right dryness to make it work perfectly and he gets that some of the time. Marc’s character is just way over the top, and that’s easy to pull off, just being bigger than life and he does so in fine fashion. Paul I found to be the least adept of the majors; his character just seemed forced a lot of the time, but he did have one of the more odd bits to work with. As far as the support, most of it fell a bit flatter than the main actors, with the exception of course of Cox. Again, as both the doctor and especially the boss, he steals the show and displays some of the best chops in the production and makes me question why he only shows up for a minute at a time.
Is that Cox and Jason Segel?  No...
Is that Cox and Jason Segel? No…
Overall, OC has its ups and downs. As the 40 minutes drags on (and by about the halfway point, it does start to drag a bit), the stories start to get weirder and weirder. If they were truly going for a pilot, I think this would have been much more successful as two separate episodes instead of trying to cram everyone’s “intro” story into one hour long (with the commercials that space is left for) program. There are some seriously funny bits (I love the recurring joke of the random borrowing guy), and some just overly weird bits, and as a whole I don’t think there is any way that this could be a serious pilot. However, looking at it as a short film, OC is too long, and could use some editing to make it run smoother and take out some fluff. This has the makings of something good, it just didn’t quite get there.

Overall 5.5 / 10
Jack Jimminy: The Story of a Pornstar Extra
Description (from the IMDb):
Jack Jimminy: The Story of a Pornstar Extra is a mockumentary following the life of Jack, the son of two of the greatest pornstars to ever grace the XXX screen. The only problem is that Jack is really an extra who goes to great lengths to hide the truth from his parents. This short explores Jack’s family, social life, and a regular day on the job as a ‘pornstar extra’.
Major Cast:
Nolan Silverstein as Jack Jimminy, Alicia McDaniels as Trish, Timothy J. Cox as Richard Jimminy, Ethel Fisher as Moonflower
Special Features:
None (Online Screener)
Written by Louis Silverstein and Nolan Silverstein
Directed by Louis Silverstein

This is a hilarious idea for a mockumentary. Good for you, Silverstein brothers, for thinking this up. Jack Jimminy, child of pornstars Richard Jimminy and Moonflower, is being pushed into “the business” by his parents, who are very proud of their long and storied careers. Jack, not so much. So, to not disappoint his loving, doting parents, Jack is in the business, just not in the way they think: he’s a background player, an extra. He creates fake “import” DVDs and posters and awards of his movies that he’s “been in,” while really paying the bills by being the guy that actually acts in the porn you’re watching.
"Just to throw off my parents, a couple of bronzed and mounted dildos I said were awards.”
“Just to throw off my parents, a couple of bronzed and mounted dildos I said were awards.”
Like any good mockumentary, JACK JIMMINY: THE STORY OF A PORNSTAR EXTRA works best when it is the driest, when there is a question about if it is a joke or not. The dialogue written for the movie is superb, and has some incredibly funny bits, and Nolan especially does a great job of delivering them in a way that says that he lives in a world that he’s not totally comfortable inhabiting. One of my favorites, when he’s talking aboutRon Jeremy: “A lot of people have had sex with my mom, but this fucker has to tell me about it ever time.” The disdain and calmness Jack delivers that sentiment with is what sells JJ:TSoaPE as possible truth, and that’s what counts when you are making a mockumentary that works. This works. Another great line: “They try not to change the girls names, so they don’t get confused.” Playing on stereotypes also helps sell this genre (are pornstars stupid? Research this: how many female pornstars run their own companies and have made their own fortunes?), and make it feel genuine.
It's hard to give an interview with "the work" going on
It’s hard to give an interview with “the work” going on
The main acting is solid in JJ:TSoaPE. Nolan carries the film on his shoulder as the actor thrown into the world of porn… well, born into the world of porn. Again, Cox is amazing in this one, and this is one of my favorite characters I’ve seen him play. As the elder Jimminy, Cox plays with such aplomb and grace for a man known for his big dick. He is hilarious, and I love how much his character loves to be a pornstar, and how proud he is of his pornstar family. It’s actually almost touching, in a sort of sticky and greasy kinda way. My one qualm with Dick Jimminy: just shaving Cox’ head doesn’t make him look as old as Fisher; some old-age makeup would have done wonders for this character. Most of the supporting characters are relatives strong as well, while some of the extras or very minor characters (like the people in the sex addicts anonymous group) go a bit over the top, over all the acting is sound throughout.
The production side of JJ:TSoaPE is varied. The video is crisp and clean and looks HD, but it is brought down a bit by lighting that is at times not so great. Now, since this is a mockumentary, this can be forgiven because shadows happen in life, and if this were a real documentary there wouldn’t really be lighting setups except for the interview scenes (but even the lighting there is a bit harsh at times). The sound is ok but not great, but it’s never bad enough to detract from the film, so I don’t discount JJ:TSoaPE too much for that. The production design of the sets (especially the cheesy sci-fi porn set) was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed that aspect. My biggest downfall on the design of the film, as I mentioned before, was the lack of makeup for Cox; it was just really obvious that he is at least 30 years younger than his “wife.”
We need more than a shaving here for realism, Dick.
We need more than a shaving here for realism, Dick.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed JJ:TSoaPE. Mockumentaries are a simple genre that can be done very well on little to no budget, and just aren’t attempted nearly often enough, and when they are done right they are really fun and really funny, and JJ:TSoaPE succeeds. It’s not 100% on all the time, but overall it is more pros than cons, and it was a fun 20 minutes or so. Unlike OC, which I felt ran too long and lost my interest part of the way through, when JJ:TSoaPE I felt a bit cheated as I really wanted it to keep going. Here’s hoping there will be a sequel, or who knows, a feature length version?

Overall 8 / 10
JJ:TSoaPE on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1657289/
JJ:TSoaPE is not for sale, but you can watch it online here: http://vimeo.com/18205363
JJ:TSoaPE site: http://www.gr3d.com/
Jack Jimminy: The Story of a Pornstar Extra (2010)
Jack Jimminy: The Story of a Pornstar Extra (2010)
“just to throw off my parents, a couple of bronzed and mounted dildos I said were awards.”

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