EXIT STRATEGY (2012)
Starring Jameel Saleem, Kimelia Weathers, Quincy “QDeezy” Harris, Noelle Balfour, Big Boy, Kevin Hart, Liz Hernandez, William “Fuzzy” West, Matt Kawczynski, Sid Burston, Juhahn Jones and Nick Sinise.
Screenplay by Jameel Saleem.
Directed by Michael Whitton.
Distributed by The Film Group. 76 minutes. Not Rated.
The world is full of low-budget comedies vying for notice. Some of them are worthy; some of them should just disappear.
Exit Strategy is far from a perfect film, but it does have enough good aspects to make it worth the look. And it does hint that star and co-writer Jameel Saleem has the potential to make a very good film down the line. He is not quite there yet, but I bet he’ll make it.
Saleem plays James, a lazy, but basically personable guy who works at a second-hand store in LA with his two best friends from college, Carville (Quincy Harris) and Leona (Noelle Balfour). One day he comes home to find out he has been evicted from his apartment.
He tries to hit his friends up, but when they both turn him down he decides to move in with Kim (Kimelia Weathers), a girl he had been dating a few months. Honestly, it hadn’t been going that great, he didn’t know her that well and they hadn’t even had sex yet. Still, James figures that she’ll take him in, give him run of the house, cook for him, clean for him and that sex thing will have to come if they are living in the same house, right?
However, it doesn’t turn out quite how he expects. She’s a neat freak, has a fetish for pink, expects him to follow her rules of the house – and sex is off of the table until he’s ready to consider marriage.
James’ character would be offensive if not for the fact that he is lightly mocked by everyone in the film for his character deficiencies. He wants to sponge off of his girlfriend – live in her apartment, eat her food, watch her TV – and yet is horrified to think that she may have expectations from him as well. Or that she does not necessarily want things in her life done his way.
It seems like a reasonable expectation. In fact, though, that is just about the only reasonable thing about the girlfriend, which is by far the film’s worst aspect.
That’s because his girlfriend is a horror show. I realize that she is way over the top on purpose, for effect, but she is so off-putting that the rest of the film suffers.
It’s supposed to be funny, and in some ways it is, but the character is so unbelievable and so over-the-top that you can’t buy it. Also, her whims seem to blow with the wind, changing her from sweet to psycho without a moment’s notice. She seems bi-polar and you always wonder why he just doesn’t leave.
However, he can’t move out because his two best friends from college won’t let him sponge off them. Hey, here’s a thought. Get your own place and then you can live however you want.
Instead, James ends up bitching to his friends, planning his escape and calling Kim out on a radio talk show. Radio personality Big Boy plays himself in the studio – as well as being one of the film’s producers – and for some reason, he and his posse are always filmed in ethereal layered soft focus, making every scene he does feel like a dream sequence.
The story idea is a bit awkward, but on the plus side Saleem and Weathers (who based her character on a stand-up idea she had been working) actually have a really good ear for dialogue. The writing is often much smarter and snappier than the situation it is illustrating.
Therefore, Exit Strategy shows real promise. If Saleem can just get his act together as far as plotting and learn to dump some of the extraneous gutter humor, the guy could be someone to keep an eye on.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 10, 2012.