Girl Walks into a Bar (Review)

(3/11/11; Drama, Comedy)
Carla Gugino, Zachary Quinto, Josh Hartnett, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Robert Forster, Alexis Bledel, Aaron Tviet, Amber Valetta
SCR/DIR: Sebastián Gutiérrez
MPAA: Unrated
1 hour 20 mins

An undercover ex-cop posing as an assassin (Gugino) meets a dentist (Quinto) in a Los Angeles bar. He wants his wife dead because she’s having an affair, but doesn’t have the $20,000 fee so he visits mobster DeVito, who sends him on a job to “pick up some money.” There is also a charming photographer (Tviet), his exotic dancer sister (Chriqui), their recently-paroled father Dodge (Forster) and a hat-check girl (Dawson) at an exclusive nude ping pong club.

This ensemble comedy takes place in one night in seedy little LA joints that seem mostly devoid of people but that might have more to do with the movie’s micro-budget than anything else. It’s edgy without crossing the line, and features some quirky performances but nothing earth-shattering. It’s all about the monologues and dialogue because even imagining this disparate group meeting each other and waxing poetic as they do would be a real stretch.

To its credit, there are a handful of quotables, not to mention a drinking contest built around slang terms for women pleasuring themselves. Episodic indie flick scored quite a bit of ink for being the “first film produced exclusively for internet distribution.” In many ways, that description lowers the bar for what’s expected from it. How good can it be if they are giving it away for free? Well, it was only free initially on YouTube, and that was with commercial breaks from Lexus.

Gutiérrez shot the movie in 11 days mostly with actors he’d worked with before, with the idea of creating a viable business option in a world where globalization is killing independent film. “We want to prove that Web distribution is a viable medium for theatrical quality movies which rely on story, characters and dialogue as opposed to special effects. For many reasons the theatrical indie landscape has changed drastically in the last few years, leaving many potential breakout hits without an audience. We are excited to break the rules of feature films by letting people watch our movie for free online.” In another interview, he added, “I don’t know what will come of this,” he said. “But we have to ask the question.”

The answer: after 24 hours online, it had received more than 100,000 views. (Shangra-La)


Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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