We came, we saw, we even laughed our asses off once or twice. Check out these feature-length and short films playing at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, the first national Chicago-based comedy film fest happening Friday 14 and Saturday 15 at the ShowPlace ICON. Local shorts and Bandicoot, which is directed by Mick Napier, wasn’t available for review, will screen Sunday 16 at the Annoyance.
“Allison” (Sat 15 at 2 and 6pm; 4mins) This charming short added nothing new to the post-breakup stalker genre and was too brief to be consequential, but reminded us yet again how creepy even the best of us get when we refuse to cut loose the ex.
* “Bear Force One” (Fri 14 at 7:30pm; Sat 15 at 1pm; 25mins) A partially animated splatterfest pitting the President of the United States against a slew of “bearrorists” determined to bring down Air Force One en route from Alaska to the nation’s capital?! I laughed heartily and often at this sly action-film parody.
Bright Day! (Sat 15 at 8pm; 86mins) Bill Maher executive produces this low-budget mockumentary which points its satirical arrows at New Age religions like Scientology and the Secret in the form of a hapless investigative reporter determined to expose a faddish cult that’s sweeping Hollywood. While it hits its target a couple of times, it could’ve done so in the form of a tight and pointed short instead of a bloated feature (and you don’t have to be Kreskin to see the ending coming a mile away).
* Mikey’s Extreme Romance (Sat 15 at 6pm; 90mins) This strange Aussie comedy about a lovelorn, average Joe who stalks a dental hygienist/wrestling enthusiast he’s never met from inside her house is both sweet and borderline freaky until the double-twist ending proves that love conquers all.
The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue (Fri 14 at 8pm; 96mins) A couple of goofball, fuck-wad slumlords attempt to search and destroy a kitty-lickin’, hound-chomping, granny-munching mole man in this pointless horror-stoner-slacker-sex comedy that should do well in the festival thanks to appearances by local all-stars Susan Messing, TJ Jagodowski, Dave Pasquesi, Brad Morris, Tim Kazurinsky, Greg Hollimon, Dina Facklis and Noah Gregoropoulos. I spent much of the film wondering how they managed to land Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) in a tiny, forgettable part.
* “Smackin’ Your Gum” (Sat 15 at 3:30pm; 4mins) Comedy chameleon Paul Thomas dons drag in this music-video parody of white rappers and dude douche-bagery. Be on the lookout for cameos from stand-up Ken Barnard and the Playground Theater’s Matt Barbera.
* “The Silver Baron” (Sat 15 at noon; 5mins) From the moment the eponymous character revs up his wheelchair and slides his aviator goggles over his weatherbeaten face, I was hooked by this charming short about living life to its fullest, especially during its waning days and weeks. And how often do we see films set in sun-drenched Southern California shot in pristine black and white?
“Sudden Death!” (Fri 14 at 6pm; Sat 15 at 5pm; 19mins) There are a couple of chuckleworthy moments in this short film about a mysterious illness called Sudden Death Syndrome that kills people after they break spontaneously into show-tune-style song and dance. Mostly, it’s just amusing to see Night Court’s John Larroquette in a brief cameo.
Unicorn City (Sat 15 at 7pm; 93mins) A D&D fanatic with a chip on his shoulder forms a gamer’s utopia to prove he’s a competent leader and win his dream job. The reverence to geekdom is commendable, but the adorable leads and sniveling wimp villain are about as formulaic as Hollywood gets.
The Chicago Comedy Film Festival happens Friday 14–Sunday 16.