New Low -- Film Review
PARK CITY - Aptly named, "New Low" is another in the long line of self-loathing comedies. If Rodney Dangerfield couldn't get any respect, the character played by writer/director Adam Bowers displays a lack of self-esteem that's off the charts. Bowers deserves credit for going out and making the film for almost no money, but it plays like a home movie of someone trying too hard to get laughs. Other than festivals, late night cable outlets and comedy websites would seem to be the film's final resting place.
A video store clerk (how many time have we seen this?) and would-be stand-up comic, Wendell (Bowers) is kind of pathetic and makes the most of it. If his philosophy of life could be put on a T-shirt it would say "born to lose." So when he meets Vicky (Jayme Ratzer), a hygienically challenged, foul-mouthed bartender, it's a match made in heaven-or hell, depending on your perspective.
They meet cute: Vicky tells him he's balding, his lips are too thin, and he's a lousy kisser. He agrees and they start going out. After spending their first night together, she invites him out for breakfast and rummages through a dumpster for day-old bagels.
The film seems more like a setup for a string of one liners, often exchanged with Wendell's equally depraved best friend Dave (Toby Turner), than an actual story. When a girlfriend tells him he's vacant, he cracks, in his best Woody Allen imitation, "don't take that away from me."
The plot, such as it is, places Wendell in a triangle between the slovenly Vicky and the saintly social worker Joanne (Valerie Jones) in a battle for his soul. He dumps Vicky because he wants to be a better person and starts hanging out with Joanne at feminist meetings and environmental groups. But when he realizes he's more comfortable with Vicky, even she doesn't want him back.
Expanded from a short film Bowers made in college, "New Low" was shot in Gainesville, Fla., which seems to have a well-developed slacker population. These are not the beautiful people, and it might be refreshing to see them on the screen if they weren't so unappealing.
Sometimes a crudely shot film like this can have a certain disarming charm, but unfortunately not this time.
Venue: Sundance Film Festival
Cast: Adam Bowers, Jayme Ratzer, Valerie Jones, Toby Turner, Houston Wells, Cory Draper
Director: Adam Bowers
Writer: Adam Bowers
Producer: Adam Bowers
Executive producers: Tom Bowers, Jan Bowers
Director of photography: Ryan Moulton
Music: Noah Kass
Editor: Adam Bowers
Sales: Josh Braun, Submarine
No rating, 82 minutes
Sundance: On the Scene