EmptyVenue: Los Angeles Film Festival
Transparently plotted, ineptly acted and missing even a whiff of social relevance or emotional import, smug comedy "HottieBoombaLottie" epitomizes that culturally prevalent strain of preening self regard typified by celebrity reality programming, game-show contestant wanna-be's and YouTube exhibitionists.
A vanity project in every sense of the phrase, Seth Packard's debut feature -- recently screened in competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival -- may land a few more youth-skewing fest slots, but otherwise appears headed straight to DVD.
Put-upon, friendless Ethan (Seth Packard), too awkward to even make nerd in his suburban high-school hierarchy and therefore just a loser, faces imminent summer vacation with distinct trepidation, since it means prolonged separation from the distant object of his romantic obsession, hottie Madison Sweet (Shay Williamson).
With encouragement from his cool older brother Clay (Matthew Webb), Ethan makes an implausible play for Madison that lands him in trouble at school. He ends up banished to California by his single mom to live with relatives for a few weeks while things cool down back home.
Hanging out with his cousin Asher (Trace Williamson), he also meets Asher's cute cousin Cleo (Lauren McKnight), who deals with her own crush on Ethan by encouraging him to express his feelings to Madison. When he returns home, however, Ethan discovers that his brother has hooked up with Madison and she's more remote than ever. But then Cleo unexpectedly arrives from out of town with a plan to help Ethan win Madison's affection.
Multi-hyphenate Packard wrote, directed, produced and stars in "HottieBoombaLottie," although he might better have focused on just a couple of these tasks, such as the script, which neglects most romantic comedy conventions in favor of situational physical gags.
Lead by Packard, the principal performances are almost entirely overplayed, with actions and emotions telegraphed like an amateur theatrical show. The widescreen cinematography only heightens these misfires with crisp, colorful imagery.
Production company: Black Sheep Productions
Cast: Seth Packard, Lauren McKnight, Matthew Webb, Shay Williamson
Dierctor: Seth Packard
Screenwriter: Seth Packard
Producers: Seth Packard, Ben Lakey
Director of photography: Travis Cline
Music: The Festival and Christian Garcia
Costume designers: Emily Packard, Katelyn Williamson
Editor: Seth Packard
Sales agents: Untitled Entertainment, Above the Line
No rating, 75 minutes.