Student films must be graded on a curve, and Flakes is basically a student film. If you overlooked the fact that the three leads are all moderately high-profile actors, I'd estimate the budget to be less than twenty thousand dollars. Most of the action takes place in or around the titular establishment, a cereal bar in which slackers and stoners assemble on a daily basis to eat their favorite cereals -- everything from standard fare like Cheerios to rare delicacies like Fruit Brute -- and make of themselves a quirky movie character. The two leads are a boyfriend-girlfriend, Neal Downs (Aaron Stanford) and the improbably named Miss Pussy Katz. (Zooey Deschanel) Their boss at Flakes is a 60-ish hippie played by Christopher Lloyd, and his performance is the biggest thing hindering my plan to give Flakes a better review than it deserves. Lloyd comes from some long forgotten school of acting where naturalism is never as a good a choice as creating a character with such a forced way of speaking that no one could ever mistake them for a human being.
With a movie like this, they base their plot on whatever is on sale at the 'cliched plot device' factory, and it appears that what was on sale that week was 'business is threatened by newer, flashier rival across the street.' A nerdy businessman comes walking into Flakes one day and is impressed by the concept but dispirited by the stoner attitude -- he doesn't get what Flakes is all about, man! -- and determines to open an upscale cereal bar directly across the way which will put Flakes out of business. This causes much tension. Miss Pussy Katz -- I can't believe I keep having to type that -- and her boyfriend have a number of rows over how Flakes should respond to the crisis at hand and the loyal customers alternately declare their loyalty or decamp to the new establishment across the street. As bad as this all sounds, there are a couple of things about Flakes that I really liked, and I'm more than happy to point them out and to remind everyone that this is from the director of Heathers.