|Flying Squirrel Boxing Productions|
|The KO Picture Show|
|Presents. . .|
|One More Round (2005)
When an Udo Kier appearance is the most cohesive thing in your narrative, it may be time for a script rewrite.
I see that the calendar has made it's way to the double-digit months again, which means that the pinnacle of b-movie-ness (in my book, anyway), B-Fest, is just around the New Year's corner. For those that aren't familiar with the event, it's basically an auditorium full of people who love bad movies, yelling funny stuff at the screen and creating enough laughs and body odor to power a small village where the stench and cackling would be tolerated. I last went to this mecca of badness in January of 2010 and I plan to return in 2012. It was during my inaugural visit that I was introduced to a little film called The Room.
Is everyone familiar with the cinematic phenomenon that is The Room? For those who haven't had the pleasure, it's the brainchild of auteur Tommy Wiseau, a true international man of intrigue who managed to raise a startling amount of money and then wrote, filmed, directed, and starred in (in various states of undress) the most melodramatic, nonsensical, unintentional guffaw-inducing movie ever made. From the elliptical dialogue to the constant self-aggrandizing of the main character (Wiseau) to the technical ineptitude to just the plain old oddness of the entire affair, it's a bad movie lover's dream. So much so that it's now gained a fairly high level of notoriety for it's badness, and since it's "serious" release in 2003 it now enjoys a new and lucrative life as a "mock drama" that's presented in midnight showings to a roaring Rocky Horror-esque crowd of Wiseau faux-idolators.
I mention The Room because in it's most basic form, it's a vanity piece (despite Wiseau's protestations otherwise: that he really meant to make it the comedic-via-fault masterpiece it was destined to become). And in the world of filmmaking, he's hardly alone. The personal desire, at least a partial buy-in to the concept by a crew and other actors, and, most of all, cold, hard cash (particularly if voluntary buy-in by the aforementioned cast and crew is not forthcoming) are all important components of the process. But the most important ingredient for a vanity piece is for the person writing the script, signing the checks, lensing the action, and driving the whole endeavor to posit the following incorrect theory to themselves: "You know what? I think I'd look pretty good saying the bulk of the lines!" And that's what connects The Room to today's subject, One More Round.
Now, to be fair, I don't think all of the blame can fall to just one person in this case. After watching the movie and doing what little research there is to do on this movie on the internet, I think what we have is, at least, a three-headed vanity piece here. But that's pure conjecture on my part, and until I hear otherwise it will have to remain that way for the purposes of this review. But when the writer/director along with the producer and associate producer are the three people who have the most lines in a movie, one tends to make assumptions.
Joseph Rex (played by the man who I'm pinpointing as the main check signer, Roy Jahangard) is a warehouse/office supply supervisor of some sort who isn't getting anywhere with the ladies and isn't getting anywhere in life for that matter. He's in a rut and is even getting bullied to some degree by one of his musclebound customers. Truthfully, he's kind of made his own bed with this guy and is receiving just about the right amount of scant respect he deserves, but Joseph's hang dog expression and whining mean we're supposed to feel bad for him. During a prolonged whine by Joe, we're introduced to his buddy Frank (writer/director Stephen Sepher) who decides to go off and make his own movie where he's the main character. It's that decisive of a split in the narrative. So while Joe pulls a "Rocky" by entering a faux "Tough Guy" boxing competition to prove his toughness to himself and his bullying work colleague while simultaneously romancing a woman he meets, Frank is struggling with his own manliness problem, the root of which stems from his on-again, off-again relationship with his girlfriend (played by associate producer Ashley Cusato). If I had to guess (which seems to be the leitmotif of this movie... guessing what the hell is going on), I'd say that Sepher starting writing a movie and then Jahangard agreed to finance it if he wrote him in as the star. So instead of starting from scratch, he just wrote a bunch of unrelated scenes and filmed them. To be honest, the narrative that follows Joe is the most cohesive, but if you take out all of the training montages, an extended basketball game scene worth of filler, and the barely choreographed boxing scenes, and there's probably 20 minutes worth of the Joe character acting.
Other characters manage to shuffle into the viewfinder's gaze, but none are particularly memorable. If I had to posit another theory about this production, the casting has a "let's cast people from my acting class" sort of feel. Checking out everyone's CV on IMDb reveals a lot of episodic TV work and independent features for the majority of the cast.
And then there's the cameos. My goodness... the cameos. The first is arguably the most recognizable to the average moviegoer, the late Harrison Young. "THE Harrison Young?!" you yell, mockingly. But if I say, "the old guy who plays the old Private Ryan in the prologue and epilogue of Saving Private Ryan", you know exactly who I'm talking about, right? Anyway, he plays Joe's grandfather with an embarrassing accent. It's not his finest moment. Next we have a series of bizarre "celebrity row" interviews at the boxing competition. If you can tell me why celebrities of any level would show up to a local, "anyone can participate" boxing competition, then you have a deeper understanding of this movie than even the filmmakers do. At any rate, the celebrities consist of 2 girls from the Real World/Road Rules reality shows, one of the girls that got topless in the second American Pie movie (a credit that they actually mention when introducing her for the interview!), and Deon Richmond. Don't know who he is either? It's not important. They all show up for about a minute of uncomfortable screen time, each playing up a sort of "annoyed by the intrusion of the celebrity row interviewer" angle, like they didn't get paid to make a cameo as a "star". And finally, there's Udo Kier. Udo, Udo, Udo. For us b-movie lovers, his appearance as a TV celebrity fight announcer for the inexplicable broadcast of this YMCA-level sporting event would at least give a glimmer of hope. But, alas, Udo decides to go for "laughs" instead of just being his odd self. His German accent renders him all but unintelligible, but there is some allusion to him and his much younger female co-host being horny for each other. I still haven't stopped shivering at the thought of Udo-love.
The Fightin'! -1
They actually managed to get a regulation-size boxing ring. That's the most complimentary thing I can say about the boxing in the film. The fight choreography is non-existent. And somehow they managed to set up a simple "BIG FIGHT FINALE" throughout the movie's running time, and then scrap it with 20 minutes to go. While I hate to give it away, Joe doesn't end up fighting his bullying colleague. In fact, the bullying colleague doesn't even make it out of the first round. But Joe fights on, as aimlessly as the script, and eventually loses in the final to a minor character from earlier in the film. So less of twist ending and more of a complete derailment. I'm guessing Roy Jahangard took an aerobic boxing class, liked the way he looked hitting the heavy bag in the mirror and just went with it. I'm sure films have been "green-lighted" for flimsier reasoning.
Overall Rating - No Contest - 0
I'll never fault someone for wanting to be famous. It sounds like a sweet deal, having millions of adoring fans and more money than you could spend in 100 lifetimes. And if you're willing to go the DIY route of trying to make your mark on Hollywood, kudos for working outside the system. It's tough sledding making your own movie, and for those that take the leap, more power to them. But conversely, when you take that leap, literally putting yourself out there, you had better have the goods. You better be talented, or funny, or dramatic, or, at the very least, unimaginably weird or beautiful looking. Fall short of that and you're not only not going to make it, but you're going to have people making fun of you. It's the nature of the beast. And I can say, unequivocally, that this was the most useless movie I've ever seen. It has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I'm really not sure what the aim of the filmmakers was, other than to have their faces appear digitally in some format, followed by semi-big time looking credits. That would be the maximum goal achieved.
|Starring: Roy Jahangard, Stephen Sepher, Udo Kier|
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