KNOCK ‘EM DEAD, KID (2009)
Starring Dirk Julien, Michael Resendez, Torey Marks, Erin Prieto, Chad Post, Angela Nordeng, Andrew Chase, Cody Cowell, Les Mahoney and Al “Mr. Outrageous” Burke.
Written by Christopher Golon.
Directed by Christopher Golon.
Distributed by Golon Films. 71 minutes. Not Rated.
You have to grade independently made films on a different scale than you do Hollywood studio movies.
For example, take Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid. This was obviously a labor of love by young writer/director Christopher Golon. It was made with a bare-bones budget of under $3,000, with some amateur (or at least little-known) actors and extremely sparse special effects.
With that kind of background, you know that a film will not look as slick or polished as even the average indie film you’re going to see jockeying for Sundance.
Yet, in many ways it does fit in to the indie film tradition soundly. More of character study than a narrative, per se, the movie follows a sensitive 19-year-old Los Angeleno who is hanging with his dead-end buddies while he awaits his dream: acceptance into the NYU film school. (Really, has there ever been a student film in which the hero does not dream of going to the NYU Film School?) The buddies talk, drink, take drugs, get into fights, juggle women, avoid the cops, and… well that’s about it, really.
Still, the film has promise. The dialogue is mostly natural sounding – it may not be the most poetic stuff in the world, but this is how some guys talk to each other. The storyline is also interesting – if not exactly earth-shatteringly unique.
The cast is passionate about the story. Lead actor Dirk Julien has a nice, laidback acting style as the hero Bret, apparently somewhat based on the writer/director’s life experiences. Chad Post as his stoner buddy and Torey Marks as a younger local girl looking for a little strings-free sex with Bret both also have very good potential.
Golon does his best, but the lack of budget is kind of noticeable here. Entire scenes are filmed in doorways, parking lots and kitchens, undoubtedly because they just couldn’t afford to build sets. The acting quality varies wildly, from nicely natural from the lead and the couple of his friends I’ve mentioned to rather overwrought for most of the adults in the film (we’re talking about you, Jim’s dad and the abusive cop.) Fight scenes are a little awkwardly choreographed. An entire huge city-wide riot is pretty much shown as several pairs of legs running in different directions, some guys gesturing threateningly at a single slow-moving car and a television set being smashed on asphalt.
I also get the feeling, due to the somewhat rushed story pace and the rather short 71-minute running time, that there was more script left to film which never was made due to money constraints.
Even just technically the lack of a budget hurts – the editing is sometimes a little choppy and the soundtrack has a tendency to fade in and out, with songs and sound effects significantly louder than they need be, almost to a distracting degree.
I totally respect the attempt to overcome budgetary constraints. Golon actually has some rather inventive ways to conquer these limitations and even when he doesn’t quite manage it, the guy has cajones for just trying. When he is able to overcome the limitations, it is all due to imagination and vision.
I consider Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid to be the first baby steps in Christopher Golon’s film career. I’d be interested to see where he goes from here, particularly if he gets himself a budget.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 23, 2009.