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Movie Review: Over Coffee

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Writer/director Sean Meehan gives us a charming look at a budding office romance in his colorful comedy short Over Coffee, an ASI (A Studio In) Production.

It tells the story of easygoing office associate Andrew (Erik Potempka) who works for hard-ass real estate mogul Hamilton Rice (Timothy J. Cox) of Rice Realty, Inc. Hamilton Rice is the kind of boss who takes pleasure in making his staff sweat and he does so with glee on a daily basis, but Andrew isn't concerned with Rice, as his whole reason for showing up to work is to see Rice's hardworking secretary Carla (Jocelyn DeBoer). Andrew has had a crush on Carla for some time, but Carla has been too busy to notice.

If you've ever worked for a boss like Hamilton Rice, and I have, you'll agree that from time to time… or in most cases, on a daily basis… you tend to get a little flustered dealing with their rather anal retentive quirks. And boy, does Carla get flustered. Can you blame her though? Every day, Carla deals with things like figuring out which Post-It note goes with what ("business meetings on blue Post-Its, personal messages on yellow Post-Its, and business messages on orange Post-Its").

I found this especially funny since I once worked for someone who actually did that very thing, in addition to making me fax and email phone messages (which were never checked), as well as leave a voice mail on a home phone number and a cell number (which I'm sure were also never checked) also with the phone messages. Then the boss would come in every day and say the same thing I heard for over a year: "I never got my phone messages." It makes me laugh thinking about it. God, I hated that job though!

Anyway… so Carla has been too busy dealing with Rice's so-called organizational antics to notice Andrew's advances. But Andrew is not one to give up, waiting for the right opportunity to make his move and impress Carla. Andrew's only ally in the office is the skirt-chasing David (Michael Oberholtzer) who himself is too busy "sexting" his latest conquest to notice anyone else's problems.

In the midst of organizing Rice's many Post-It notes, she forgets to pick up his precious cup of coffee, a daily ritual, this very specific order (I'm with Denis Leary — whatever happened to coffee-flavored coffee?). Rice is on the way to the office and wants his coffee upon arrival. What to do? Enter Andrew. Here's that opportunity and he jumps at it. He wants to make an impression on Carla and off he goes to pick up Rice's precious coffee.

In a very funny sequence, which I'm sure happens on a daily basis at the local Starbucks, Andrew goes in to a local coffee shop to purchase said specific order, but it is snatched away by an unpleasant woman before he can get to it. (It does happen.) Then, the chase is on. But time is running out, and Carla is a bundle of nerves as she awaits Andrew's return and Rice's arrival. Her situation is not helped by David, who tries to flirt with her in a not-so-subtle manner. Andrew manages to retrieve the coffee and makes it back to the office just as Rice arrives and begins berating everyone.

I'm sure you can piece together how the film ends.

Office comedies have become very popular over the last decade or so, thanks largely to Mike Judge's spectacular Office Space  (I also wish to recommend the 1997 comedy Clockwatchers). There are brief attempts to mirror Office Space's quirky humor in Meehan's Over Coffee, mostly in Oberholtzer's performance as the office stud, David, but smartly, Meehan stayed away from trying to copy the earlier comedy and instead has crafted a pleasant, breezy comedy of his own that features quick camera work, a snappy pace, and some enjoyable, toe-tapping tunes from both Eric Campo and Kevin McLeod.

As for the performances, leads Erik Potempka (who has a touch of Bradley Cooper's charm) and Jocelyn DeBoer are appealing as Andrew and Carla, respectively. In a brief appearance near the end of the film, Timothy J. Cox gloriously chews the scenery, having a grand old time as blowhard Hamilton Rice, a man who takes enjoyment in tossing out orders and insults (not always in that order) to anyone in his way.

Over Coffee is making its rounds on many film sites on the Internet, so I encourage you to see the film. Please visit Vimeo to check it out.

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About Hannah Marie Ellison