The opening night celebrity screening included seven shorts, but only three were in the competition, the others were just for laughs (lots of them).
The first competitor was The Action Hero’s Guide to Saving Lives, directed by Justin Lutsky and starring Patrick Warburton (Jeff on Rules of Engagement and Joe Swanson on Family Guy). Warburton plays Ace Mulligan, a typical Die-Hard-style action hero, with one exception — he keeps getting killed. But lucky for him and our laughs, he comes back to life like a video game character and learns, more or less, from experience with each lesson funnier than the last. This film also meets the primary requirement of great satire by capturing the atmosphere and style of the genre it’s lampooning. And don’t leave when the titles start. Read them all the way through for even more laughs.
Next up, Russell Fish: The Sausage and Egg Incident directed by Terence Heuston. Chris Colfer from Glee stars as the title character, an archetypal smart kid who somehow must get a passing grade in gym class in order to go to the university of his dreams. This plot line is obscured (hard to do in a short film) by Colfer’s problems with a bully. The acting was good, but unless you’re 12 or a big fan of kick-to-the crotch humor (sausage and eggs is a euphemism for male private parts) you won’t find too many laughs here.
Reunited, directed by and starring Dax Shepard (Crosby Braverman on Parenthood), shows what good direction can do for a simple premise. Two college best buds meet again after ten years. They are both real estate agents and reunite by surprise during an open house. While the potential buyer gets progressively more frustrated, they reenact four years of college hi-jinks in ten minutes. You’d think you’d be sympathetic to the buyer, but you’ll be surprised and touched by the ending.
Coming tomorrow at LA Comedy Shorts, a day full of films and two expert panels on making movies in a tough economy and on turning your “ceWebrity” into Hollywood cred.