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Superior Duck (1996)
4/10
It's Pretty Flat
25 October 2019
There's not much substance in the writing, although it does manage to capture the old late 50s, early 60s Looney Tunes style well. After all, Chuck Jones did direct it. However, the short feels very phony, feeling the need for cameos and the reuse of old story pieces and gags. Even something for Looney Tunes, this cartoon doesn't make sense. If only all of the cameos were taken out and it was a sequel to Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century, it would've been better. In the end, it's a bit torturous to watch but will not leave much of an impact at all.
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Kenny (2018)
3/10
A Mediocre Script Filled with Irritating Cliches of Jokes, Predictable Story Lines and a Bad Tendency to Add Comedy to Serious Subjects.
21 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I really do hate to slam Jennette McCurdy like this, I love you Jen, but I really did not enjoy your 2018 short "Kenny." While only around less than 20 minutes, the short has a lot of material put into it, and yet the majority of it doesn't hold any impact. Most of it was painful to watch and listen to.

One of the biggest annoyances about it for me is the combination of humor and a dramatic scene. If you're watching a character's mom die, you don't want to see comedy thrown into the scene and subject because something like this is honestly a tough thing to do well. What if that happened in other projects (movies and short film) in which a character was tragically dying? Therefore the tone makes the majority of it feel uncomfortable.

As I was watching this, it only got worse and worse for me to watch. The one moment the joke about the popular, cocky brother (I think Todd is Kenny's brother) being recognized by a character trying to address something important and then gets side tracked is one of the worst jokes I have ever personally watched in any piece of film. So while it's nothing personal, this is a joke cliche that rarely comes across as funny. The only instance it would work is if you knew more about the characters' interests and personalities and then it would make more sense. This joke is repeated at least 3 times in a short that's, like I said, less than 20 minutes long. And every time it happens again it just gets more painful. In context, why would an older man (the nurse) have interest in a young man's podcast? Just me questioning that sounds kind of funny. When this running gag first happens, the old man's disgusted face was exactly my reaction to it. Even the mother is so desperate to see her hot-shot son, I rolled my eyes at that. That's another thing to address, the mother doesn't act like a mother dying in bed, she instead acts very picky, bitter and dismissive.

The writing is borderline bad. Again, Jen, you're a great person, but this is not great writing to put it in all honesty. Especially with a storyline like this and as depressing of a main character this is, the way everybody acts is not natural. It's not realistic. And with subject matter like this is where you especially need to be realistic with how the character's interact with each other and how they express their emotions. The scene involving Kenny trying to contact his brother makes it feel painfully predictable. Of course, loud noise is occurring on the other line because the cocky brother wants to only have fun. Of course, he doesn't hear him when it comes to the most important part of the sentence. And, of course, you can't leave out the character that has to interrupt Kenny because of a certain rule in the hospital. Shouldn't Kenny have known not to make a phone call in the ICU? Didn't anyone of the facility inform the family of that?

You already knew the mother would be dying, although I do give a small amount of credit for the scene where the nurse tells the family that she'll live. But, then again, I think that's makes it more cliched than without that scene. It's the equivalent to the movie cliche where it appears a character is dead but then, big surprise, they're alive. Except, it's the opposite of that. I don't think it's any better than the dead to alive cliche.

I feel the last major issue to address is Kenny himself. He's like Charlie Brown except I feel there is nothing of substance to Kenny besides how depressing and angry he seems. Wouldn't it have been better if Kenny was an optimistic kind of guy? However, I don't blame him seeming this way as he has to be in such a cold environment involving his own family.

There's no chemistry between him and his mother, and that might be the best way to describe the short: there's no chemistry. I feel no connection between the characters. It honestly feels more like the actors having to be in these roles as opposed to an actual family. And the small way in which I see them as family comes off real dysfunctional.

Even the scene where he's at work, which is the poster for the short, there's nothing to it. It's not even half a minute long. All it contains is a joke that doesn't even make sense. It has the jock stereotype of the dude with the earbuds in his ears. Did he only come to the restaurant to stand there? Was he expecting the employees to know what he wanted? Who would go in with earbuds in their ears not expecting to take them off for anything? Again, the fact that I'm questioning this is funnier than the actual scene.

Listen, Jen, to me there are many ways in which this short could have been fixed in order to make it good. It's visually nice and is shot decently. Heck, some of the expressions on the actors seem believable to a degree. That's the only good element in it to me sadly. Maybe if you took out the side characters and just had it about him and his mother, then there wouldn't be much of a toxic feeling or a need for comedy. You could take out the brother and all of the other characters besides Kenny's mom and dad, even the nurses you could've taken out. There's a lot you can still do and do well with less characters. Along with that, if there was more substance to the opening and more time spent between Kenny and his mother without the need for a lot of humor then it would be an improvement in the short's quality. There's a lot of time spent in the hospital, and it's not the most lively environment. Maybe if you balanced out the amount of time Kenny spends at home with his mother and at the hospital. Like I said before, with a subject like this, it's hard to do humor that comes across funny. That's why, with my idea, there should only be humor incorporated into the opening scene that would involve him and his mother at home. At the end, Kenny acts like nothing happened. Honestly I don't blame him, but with my idea you could show the impact of his mother's death on him without following the cliches involving this story line. Involving this, what would benefit it is if there was less dialogue and more scenes of silence, just to let the moment leave an impact on you. I would have focused less on jokes and more on connection and emotion. A few small suggestions and ideas would be that in the very beginning, which is probably the best scene in the short, Kenny is playing the guitar. It's shot as though it doesn't seem like he's playing the guitar, yet how he moves is in sync with the music that it makes it more obvious he's playing. Maybe if he tries staying still and taking a deep breath in. Or maybe he has one hand behind his head as he lays in bed, maybe he as a talent of playing the guitar with only one hand. Little touches like that would significantly help this project. I do really like when one thing is happening in a scene and all of the sudden something occurs that changes the tone. You did that with the alarm clock suddenly going off immediately when he's playing the guitar, and even though it's very brief, I do applaud you for that one moment.

The script didn't need a rewrite, it needed to be discarded and redone all together while holding on to a couple plot elements. Something else I didn't mention is that it could have used better actors, including the main lead. I think it would have been more powerful if the main lead was a kid. How would a kid react to death? How would he understand it? That would have been much more interesting. The title card could have had more material, effort and saturation to it.

I give the short 1 out of 4 stars.

No heart feelings, Jen, but try to get out of your comfort zone a bit.
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