Wow. You just don't expect to see a movie this awful playing at the Sundance Film Festival (even if a good deal of the film was shot in Utah). Truth be told, I don't expect to see a movie like this anywhere, but man oh man. I always try to think of something positive to say, no matter what the movie is, but this experience has defeated, deflated and depressed me. I'm actually a little irritated about it.
The flick is a very broad comedy called Adventures of Power, because the lead character is named Power. It's a waaaayyyy-too-late Napoleon Dynamite retread that would have been just as witless had it arrived two weeks after that overrated little hit. For the record, I have nothing against writer / director / lead actor Ari Gold; as a matter of fact, this movie was my very first experience with the guy -- despite the fact that he's already appeared in several indies and some award-winning short films. But going only by what I just witnessed in Adventures of Power, Mr. Gold is A) a plainly bland and lifeless director, B) a (gotta say it) pretty damn terrible screenwriter, and C) a lead actor with the screen presence of cottage cheese. In all honesty I hope Gold's next movie is a breakout indie smash like Juno or Little Miss Sunshine, but good gosh a'mighty, is this movie a ten-ton turd. Here's the story: A mega-geeky man-child who wears headbands, talks funny, and obsesses over breakfast cereal decides to leave his grungy hometown of Lode, New Mexico, so as to follow his dream of becoming a world-class "air drummer." (Insert crickets here.) Had Adventures of Power arrived as some sort of YouTube video or Saturday Night Live skit, it probably could have been pretty darn funny. Or, more likely, slightly amusing and then never to be watched again.
But Ari Gold takes his already-flimsy one-joke premise and proceeds to stretch it like the world's longest and most horribly annoying rubber band. And it's a pretty agonizing affair. I'd love to say that veteran laugh-providers Michael McKean and Jane Lynch provide some respite from Gold's ceaseless mugging, but that'd be more like fan-friendly charity than actual truth. It'd be great to admit that Adrian Grenier's extended cameo as a silly country singer (named Dallas Houston! crickets! ) provides a small beacon of humor in an otherwise witless wasteland, but that would be a lie. The jokes arrive with consistent thuds, the pacing is all off, the dead-end subplots about striking workers and a deaf girl exist as nothing but vacant filler ... ugh, enough.
Or maybe I'm just being too rough on what is essentially a mindless little farce that's meant to do nothing beyond deliver a few stray giggles. OK, if the flick arrived as a video store exclusive, maybe. But at Sundance? C'mon.