'Camera Store': Film Review

LarroquetteCameraStore_press - H 2016

LarroquetteCameraStore_press - H 2016

A cast of familar TV faces isn't enough to breathe life into this underwhelming comedy/drama.

John Larroquette plays the manager of a photography store fallen on hard times in Scott Marshall Smith's debut feature.

Scott Marshall’s debut feature takes place over the course of a single day in a camera store located in a nondescript suburban mall. No doubt the writer/director intended for the intimate story to be a microcosm of personal crises set against the backdrop of a business being made obsolete by the ravenous forces of modernization. Unfortunately, watching Camera Store mainly feels like, well, spending an entire day in a camera store in a nondescript suburban mall. In a rare big-screen starring role, veteran actor and Emmy Award-winner John Laroquette plays Ray, the beleaguered, dyspeptic manager of Bibideaux’s Family Photographic. The story, such as it is, takes place on Christmas Eve, 1994, and if you’re wondering about the reason for the vintage setting, it’s because it roughly coincides with the period in which film was starting to give way to digital photography.

So what would normally be a busy day for the store turns out anything but, with only a handful of customers straggling into the establishment manned by Ray and his boozy colleague Pinky (Jon Rhys-Davies) who, when he isn’t flirting with women, drowns his sorrows at the nearby Scurvy Parrott Pub.

After a warning visit from a former protégé (David James Elliott, of JAG fame), Ray realizes that his plans to open his own store may be in jeopardy. Meanwhile, his wealthy boss (Paul Ben-Victor), now married to Ray’s ex-wife (Cheryl Ladd), has saddled him with a new young assistant, Pete (Justin Lieberman), who quickly strikes up a flirtation with a beautiful young woman (Maddie McCormick) fallen on hard times.

Very little about what happens is very interesting, with the contrived situations and artificial-sounding dialogue giving the proceedings the strained feel of a mediocre off-Broadway play with a misjudged air of profundity. Virtually all of the performers go over the top at one point or another, with Rhys-Davies particularly chewing up the scenery (although to be fair, that’s how his character is written). And while Laroquette is a master of the slow burn, which he employs to fine effect throughout, he, too, ultimately lapses into histrionics.

Despite its cast filled with familiar television faces, Camera Store is likely to suffer the same commercial fate as the consumer product at its center. The film was apparently inspired by the writer/director’s own experiences, but in this case his snapshot of the past is as faded as an old photograph.   

Production company-distributor: Provocator
Cast: John Larroquette, John-Rhys-Davies, Justin Lieberman, Laura Silverman, Paul Ben-Victor, Maddie McCormick, David James Elliott, Cheryl Ladd
Director-screenwriter: Scott Marshall Smith
Producers: Scott Marshall Smith, Robert Reed Peterson, Albert T. Dickinson III, Nicholas Cafritz
Director of photography: Yaron ‘Ron’ Levy
Production designer: Nate Jones
Editor: Ryan Dufrene
Costume designer: Jillian Kreiner

Not rated, 99 minutes