Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cut by Cut: Answer This! (Christopher Farah, 2010)

Man I do love movie reviews.

Cut by Cut: Answer This! (Christopher Farah, 2010):

Answer This! (Christopher Farah, 2010)

Answer This! is not only a Michigan made movie but a movie shot almost entirely in Ann Arbor. The film tells the comedic story of a graduate student, Paul (Christopher Gorham) at The University of Michigan, as he has a quarter life crisis while working on his graduate doctorate and is struck with writers block. To help himself get past it, he with a friend, James (Nelson Franklin), decide to part-take in a city wide pub trivia competition. In addition to this there is a girl, Naomi (Arielle Kebbel) and the name of his father, Dr. Elliot Tarson (Ralph Williams), to live up to. All together the film was okay. The film was heartfelt and quite funny but some aspects of the film kept it from being stronger.

One troubling aspect of the film was that it felts a bit too loaded. There were many scenes and exchanges between characters which felt out of nowhere and almost unnecessary. One such scene is when Paul and Naomi are in the library, though it has a quick laugh, it was entirely unnecessary. Other scenes that felt unneeded were the montage sequences, which featured little of the characters actually doing anything of importance and just featuring shots of U of M and Ann Arbor landmarks. It almost seemed as if these montages where being used to almost show off the university and Ann Arbor. Don’t get me wrong I love Ann Arbor (I lived there for three years) and am a fan of U of M, but I felt like it was going a bit overboard with some of the montage sequences that featured random shots of the city; and though it was cool to see many places I have been to in the city, it distracted away from the story.  As for the montages that included important plot development, they were also interfered by shots that were unrelated to the scene. Most of these montages could have been cut, or written into an actual scene that helped develop the characters rather than hinting at it.

In addition to the film being too heavy, the plot of the film felt forced. The overwhelming plot lines are distinctly featured but in the end they all seemed shoved together rather than coming together naturally. This could be shown by some of the decisions Paul makes through out the film. Though some could be natural, some are out of left field with no real explanation as to how he came up with his reasoning for that decision. Also some of the plot turns almost come out of nowhere and given little explanation as to how or why they happened, in addition to being pointless, and really doing nothing for the characters in the end.

Though the film felt as if the plot was a bit lacking, it still was a cute and quirky flick that had multiple points for a good laugh. The relationships between all the characters were fun and unique. The relationship between James and Paul was always a good laugh especially when talking about the trivial nature of their hobby. Another aspect of the film I really liked was the thought that though you may be living in a great place, there is an entire world out there that you should explore. It showed that you should never settle for the easiest choices and that you should adventure and find what it is that you love. These life lessons were the major heart behind the film.  The idea that you should never tie yourself down and live one day at a time was a great theme behind various characters.

Not only was the theme a great part of the film, it was also sprinkled with clever one-liners that would sometimes catch you off guard and give you a good chuckle or in some cases a hardy laugh. The characters of James and Ice (Even Jones) were two that brought the most laughs being almost the odd couple of Paul’s trivia team. In addition to those characters, there were also the scenes featuring other teams of trivia night including the stereotypical frat guys, the group of super nice guys who are just in it to have fun and have a pint or two, and the biker group calling themselves “Bikers for Obama.” Overall the film does have plenty of laughs but this also can be handed to the acting involved.

One great part of the film was the acting. The various characters of the film, from the Professor (Williams) to the struggling graduate student (Gorham) where excellently acted. Ralph Williams plays the part of Professor Elliot Tarson who is energetic and bubbly. His charm rubs off on the characters around him as he connects with him and even though has a very short screen presence most certainly steals those scenes that he’s in. He is that professor that everyone had in college that is very likeable to be around, making class more fun than a chore. Arielle Kebbel plays the smart and quirky love interest. Her flirtatious style and mannerisms makes her a perfect fit for the role of Naomi by the way she innocently plays the strings to enter Paul’s heart. Christopher Gorham plays the role of troubled Paul who really embodies the spirit of a quarter-life-crisis graduate student. His uncertainty in life but passion for the game is well shown in his face when he is on screen.

Answer This! had its strong and weak points. Overall I felt like there was a lot that could be taken out of the film, including some of the montages that seemed empty and pointless at times, almost going out of their way at times. The story seemed like the different plot lines where forced together at the end and was not the natural conclusion some would want. Though the film had these plot issues, it still told the theme of living one day at a time with heart. The film was funny giving me laughs from the different characters portrayed in the film. These laughs wouldn’t have been had if it not were for the top-notch acting given by the actors in the film. Overall I felt like Answer This! was an okay film. 

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