Every year there's that festival film that just feels like a "festival
film." It always starts off with a zany premise, zingy dialogue
between overly witty characters, and some quirky indie rock in the
background. Inevitably, the subject matter then turns to something more
serious, and the main characters work through the drama to find their
Sometimes the formula works wonders (I'm talking to you Duplass
brothers!), however more often than not, this type of movie just falls
a bit shy of feeling like a "real" movie. I really wish that i could
report that BAG OF HAMMERS defies the pitfalls of the indie dramedy
but I'm afraid for me it just doesn't.
The zany premise of BAG OF HAMMERS begins as a pair of best friend
scam artists pull off their latest con by posing as valets at a
cemetery, then heisting the cars from the bereaved. Hilarious, right?
Right. The happy-go-lucky duo plug away at their carefree life of
crime with no inkling of a conscience until a young boy and his
neglectful mom move into the house in front of the garage apartment
they share. Enter obligatory drama, ridiculous plot turn, and even
more ridiculously unrealistic resolve.
Now, I'm all about suspending disbelief and just accepting the terms
of a unique story, but sometimes it just doesn't work. In order for
crazy plot devices to really gel, a film must exist in its own
universe, and unfortunately BAG OF HAMMERS just fails to create a
world where such inane antics will fly.
All was not lost as the film did have some redeeming qualities
including stellar performances by Jason Ritter, co writer/star Jake
Sandvig, as well as a captivating performance by young Chandler
Director Brian Crano manages to pull a few great tricks from his
sleeve which certainly save the film from total unwatchable status,
but sadly these few bright moments can't save the film.
Well, I'll be back again soon with more coverage from SXSW.