Review: Heartland Shorts Program (Comedy)

By Kyle Wooldridge

In honor of the Heartland comedy shorts, I’m going to deliver this review in the same manner as they were presented. Without further ado, here is a quick review of the comedy shorts program.

They were good.

Oh, you wanted more than that? Alright, I guess I’ll do my duty as a member of the press and actually review these films one by one.

“Einstein-Rosen”

This review is very hard for me to write due to technical difficulties at the screening (the film was in Spanish and the subtitles weren’t working for the first half), so bear with me on this review. From what I saw, this film has a really cute premise about kids who discover a wormhole and throw stuff into it. They then return to this same wormhole 30 years later to find all of their stuff returning to them. The film is fun and light-hearted and there are some funny moments in the film. Again, it’s hard for me to be too confident in my review of this film, but I would like to see it again in full because I liked what I saw.

Rating: 3/5

(Edit: Technical difficulty-free re-review here)

“Good Hair”

“Good Hair” is a film about a couple experiencing turbulence in their relationship after the guy, Khi, uses all of his girlfriend Frankie’s conditioner. This film starts really strong with the humor. One of the first lines in the film, if not the first line, is Frankie picking up a clump of hair and saying “This looks like Chewbacca’s asshole,” to which Khi responds, “I don’t think Wookies have assholes.” I thought this was a really funny introduction to the plot of the film and set up the humor really well. While this film does have jokes in it, I would say it is primarily a drama and not a comedy. I appreciate that the film has the guts to deal with big underlying issues that can arise in relationships, such as Frankie feeling like Khi is holding her back, and Khi feeling inadequate compared to her. I think these issues are handled well for the most part, but sometimes things feel like they happen really suddenly. I feel that while a lot of the issues are set up well, the whole argument escalates really quickly. What is even worse is that by the end of the movie they have really worked through the issues. They kind of just stop arguing and say, “I love you,” and make up. Their relationship issues still exist at the end of the film, and neither of them really take steps towards fixing them; they seemingly just decide to ignore them, which bothered me. I had fun with the film, I liked the humor, and I liked the way they set up issues in the relationship. If they would have just ended the film a little differently I would have probably rated it a full star higher.

Rating: 3/5

“Inbox”

“Inbox” is a story about a man who is afraid to leave his house and tries to interact with a mail carrier who can’t talk to him. This film is a really touching story about human connection and overcoming barriers. There are some really genuine moments between the two characters despite all their interactions taking place from opposite sides of a door. I liked the humor in the movie, especially with the montage of the main character trying to hype himself up to leave the house. One minor issue I had with the film was that – while the girl’s progression towards overcoming her anxiety feel natural – there is very little progression, if any, on the guy’s part. I would have liked to see him make at least a small step by the end of the film, even if it was something as simple as opening the door then closing it. This isn’t really a big deal, but I think it would have been nice. Despite this I still really enjoyed this short, its message, and how genuine it feels.

Rating: 4.5/5

“Approaching a Breakthrough”

“Approaching a Breakthrough” is kind of a strange one for me because this short also had some technical issues in the theater. I spent the whole movie trying to figure out why all of the characters’ skin was pink, to no avail. It was only later, when prepping to write this review, that I discovered that this was a technical issue and not in fact a choice by the filmmakers. With that in mind, I’ll try to set aside my confusion and give a fair review. This film is about a guy named Norman who is walking through Central Park with his girlfriend when he is forced to deal with people from his past as well as his own personal issues. What I liked about the film is the way the characters all pop up one by one and just stick with him. I thought the whole situation was funny, and I especially liked how his two therapists start analyzing his conversation with his ex-girlfriend. What I didn’t like about the film was that it didn’t seem to come to any conclusion. All these people start shining a light on his issues as a person, but instead of making any progress towards self-realization, he blows them off and they all leave. Not only that, but when he meets back up with his girlfriend (who has stormed off angrily) she seems to be totally over it. There is no conversation about why she has a change of heart, or really even an acknowledgement of the argument at all. So after all the talking about his issues and trying to get to the root of them, he just ends up walking away without facing these issues or any consequences whatsoever. This really soured my opinion of the film.

Rating: 2/5

“A Date in 2025”

“A Date in 2025” is a film that takes place in the future (2025 to be exact, if you couldn’t tell) where humans have so much technology at their disposal – such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence – that they rarely need to leave their houses. This film focuses on Daniel and his artificial intelligence, Counselor, as he tries to get a real-life date with a girl named Amber from his virtual reality class. This film is funny, creative, and insightful. I found Counselor to be delightful. She has a lot of good jokes, such as her constant reminders to Daniel of the exact odds of him killing himself if he doesn’t get some human contact soon. I also really liked the film’s vision of the future because it doesn’t seem too unattainable, but it is still unique. I especially liked the liquid Prozac that Daniel squirts into his pizza shake (side note: I’m counting down the days until 2025 when I too can have a pizza shake). Not only are there many great jokes in the film that kept the audience amused, but there is also a heartfelt message to the film about human connection (similarly to “Inbox” actually). A really powerful moment in the film is when Daniel and Amber finally meet in person and say nothing, just embrace each other. It was a really good choice by the writers to just let this moment happen without words to show how both of them have been going through the same thing in life. I have no complaints about this film at all and would definitely recommend it.

Rating: 5/5

“Perfect Roast Potatoes”

Perfect Roast Potatoes is about a brother and sister dealing with their mother’s death on Christmas Day and how they try to carry on the Christmas traditions without her. To me, the highlight of this film is Tituss Burgess. As a big fan of his work on the show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I was very excited to learn he was in this film, and he did not disappoint me. He delivers his usual Tituss charm as well as many of the best jokes in the film. I especially liked when he talks to the dead mother as if she is alive. The other two actors, Catherine Tate and Jonathan Cake, also do a great job with their roles, but they are more serious. I really liked the way the filmmakers use the mother’s recipe for roast potatoes as a metaphor for their relationship with their mother. I think there is a lot of heart in the film. One issue I have with the film is that it feels like the brother transitions a little too quickly from thinking his sister is totally crazy to being on board with carrying on the holiday. I appreciated how they show the two characters dealing with grief in different ways, but it felt like I blinked and suddenly they were on the same page. Nevertheless, I think this film does a good job of balancing comedy with serious themes. It also proved to me that I can watch anything with Tituss Burgess in it and have a good time.

Rating: 4/5

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