'3rd Street Blackout': Film Review

3rd Street Blackout Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Los Angeles Film Festival

3rd Street Blackout Still - H 2015

Who knew Hurricane Sandy was funny?

A technology-obsessed couple is forced to cope without their devices during a blackout in this NYC-set comedy.

A tech-obsessed nerdy couple is forced to relate to each other without the help of their usual gadgets after a city blackout in Negin Farsad and Jeremy Redleaf's DIY romantic comedy which they star in, wrote, directed and produced. But while the performers are appealing, 3rd Street Blackout is a too determinedly quirky affair to fully mine the comic potential of its clever premise. Much like its setting, the film could have used more energy.

The story concerns Mina (Farsad) and Rudy (Redleaf), who live in a walk-up apartment in New York City's East Village. She's a neuroscientist accomplished enough in her field to give TED talks, and he's a software designer who creates the sort of apps nobody really needs. They're a couple who communicate mainly via text messages and whose principal arguments revolve around their Netflix queue. Oh, they think they're hip; they enjoy the occasional rap battle and at one point Mina proclaims, "Us neuroscientists know how to get down."  

Needless to say, they're both thrown into a tizzy when Hurricane Sandy strikes and their neighborhood is suddenly deprived of power.

"What did people do before binge-watching HBO Go?" Mina asks. Speaking like a true male, Rudy responds that they binged on sexual positions.

Having to actually talk to each other leads Mina to make a confession about something that occurred while she was away giving a TED talk. It has to do with the flirtations of a handsome British venture capitalist (The Mindy Project's Ed Weeks), who was interested not only in possibly financing Mina's studies but in something more personal as well.

Related in sometimes confusing, non-linear form, the story never really amounts to very much. But it does provide for a series of often vulgar gags and one-liners and cameo appearances by such reliable comic performers as Janeane Garofalo and John Hodgman. The best of the supporting players, however, is veteran character actress Phyllis Somerville, stealing the pic as the couple's acerbic, diabetic neighbor.

While the decision to use the real-life catastrophe as a springboard for a frothy comedy is questionable — people died, after all — 3rd Street Blackout gets by, thanks largely to Farsad's adorableness as the geeky heroine. Somebody give this woman a sitcom, stat.  

Distributor: Paladin
Production: Mina and Rudy, Brackets Creative, Vaguely Qualified Productions
: Negin Farsad, Jeremy Redleaf, John Hodgman, Phyllis Somerville, Jordan Carlos, Katie Hartman
Directors-screenwriters: Negin Farsad, Jeremy Redleaf
Producers: Negin Farsad, Jeremy Redleaf, Ryan Cunningham, Andrew Mendelsen
Executive producer: Max Born,
Director of photography: Eun-ah Lee
Production designer: Jose Cavazos
Editor: Andrew Mendelson
Costume designer: Elana Zelman
Composer: Gaby Alter
Casting: Henry Russell Bergstein

Not rated, 87 minutes