Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

" Maybe people with talent are allowed to be rude. "
— Holly Hunter, Living Out Loud

MRQE Top Critic

Force Majeure

Little fights turn into big fights when couples use their emotions as weapons —Marty Mapes (review...)

An avalanche is a Force Majeure

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Sonny (Ryan Carnes) dreams of entrepreneurial success. Instead he wakes up to a blaring alarm, a high-maintenance girlfriend you want to punch in the face, an obese dog and an annoying neighbor. Welcome to the life of a man who’s tired of working for and living with schmucks but doesn’t know it yet.

Sonny tries to inspire his office-mates to financial freedom
Sonny tries to inspire his office-mates to financial freedom

Sonny, the dreamer, attempts to inspire fellow employees: Tony (Steve Ligambi) and Juan (Luis Lopez) into professional and financial freedom. Tony and Juan consider themselves players in their own right but don’t want to leave the perceived security of their jobs. Along the way, we meet the obligatory, ornery secretary, the MacGuffin senior partner, and the irritating yet upwardly mobile, kiss-ass Steve.

The theme of exploring corporate burnouts pursuing their personal and entrepreneurial ambitions is an interesting theme that deserves more exploration. At some point we’ve all questioned whether we can do it better under our own shingle than under the corporate roof.

But the main problems with SnoCone Inc.are primarily assembly, pacing, and a questionable resolution.

Combined with the choppy editing are subplots and supporting characters that do not service the master plot or propel the main characters toward any kind of playable action. The supporting characters don’t have enough time in 85 minutes to provide support, and so the viewer is asked to traverse huge and consecutive story gaps with repeated leaps of faith. By the time we get to the quasi- deus ex machina in the form of John Paul DeJoria (a.k.a., Paul Mitchell) and an ending that feels completely tacked on, I had to say “enough.”

Insult cameos featuring Morgan Fairchild (Chandler’s Mom from Friends) and Tony Sirico (The Sopranos) are equally unfulfilling. Although Monica (Lacy Finley) is necessary as a story catalyst to humanize Tony, the evolution of the relationship leaves too many questions unanswered. And although Nicole Taylor gives a credible performance as Amy; Sonny’s high-maintenance girlfriend, her usefulness to the story is questionable. She didn’t really propel Sonny to want to succeed, to want to find someone better, or show her up after they broke up.

The actors are all generally credible and competent. As such they can be forgiven some of the gimmicky paces they are put through. The guys interact as office comrades would. In spite of this, the movie tries to develop too many characters, relationships and plotlines in too short a time.

The dialogue is at times as self-aware and predictable as the most juvenile testosterone comedy movie. The cheap stunts and referential humor don’t really pay off for the audience or for the actors. For example, when Tony indoctrinates the SnoCone girls in the vein of Patton, it’s just silly. No real businessman in his right mind would train new employees in this manner. Comedy has to have an element of truth to it to work.

Unnecessary foreshadowing appears in dialogue, several scenes, and insert shots. This includes an exchange about Tony’s truck and its ability to haul the snow cone trailer. Sonny and Tony pass a station wagon for sale with snow cone stand in tow. No one is surprised when the truck breaks down, but it’s not really funny. Another example of this kind of overkill is the remark about senior partner, Mr. Quad, “leaving [the firm] in a rubber body bag.” At that point it is obvious Quad is as doomed as a red-shirted security officer on Star Trek.The codger of course snuffs it at an appropriate plot point; however his death catalyzes nothing. The death of a Star Trek red-shirt may be no more glamorous, but at least it usually set up the rest of the episode.

The sound is great and the music matches the action very well. The high quality of the footage would suggest that Knapp shot sufficient footage and had a fuller vision. This however couldn’t make up for the way the editing hamstrung the story.

This movie should be Office Space meets Wall Street with an Austin Indy South-by-Southwest spice. Instead, it’s a choppy and predictable 85 minute mess. This is a shame because the premise drew me in, the trailer was slick without giving too much away and I really wanted to like this movie. The problem is that the execution is too much like the “let’s blame corporate America for everything” genre of the last 10 years such as the Fun with Dick and Jane remake. Sticking it to “The Man,” ironically, is now an institutionalized commodity of “The Man.” The question I kept asking myself was: “so what if Sonny bought a snow cone stand?”

I’m quite sincere when I say I admire Travis Knapp for getting a first movie in the can. There are too many people out there “fixin’ to do something” and never get it done. For whatever its worth, I still like the idea and if Knapp made a director’s cut that addressed the pacing and development problems, I would want to watch it. Instead I hope he’ll keep making new films and perfecting his craft.