Former high school musical star Marc Pease has only 24 hours to convince his old music teacher to help make his recording dreams come true. The problem is, Marc graduated from high school eight years ago and is obsessed with recapturing his glory days.
What sort of experience should audiences get from watching this Jason Schwartzman- Ben Stiller low-budget comedy/drama? This reviewer isn’t entirely sure. Dumped into a handful of U.S. theatres before the closure of Paramount’s indie film division, Paramount Vantage, and on home video in other territories like Singapore, “The Marc Pease Experience” is a befuddling exercise at trying to make a movie for no one in particular.
Co-written and directed by Todd Louiso (audiences may recognise him from supporting roles in Thank You for Smoking and School for Scoundrels), it is the story of Marc Pease (Schwartzman), who flipped out eight years ago on the night of his high school’s production of The Wiz- despite assurance from his drama teacher Jon Gribble (Stiller). Now, Gribble is re-staging The Wiz; Pease is trying to keep his a cappella group Meridian 8 together to record a demo; and Pease and Gribble find themselves locked in a love triangle for present high-school senior Meg (Anna Kendrick).
All this happens over the course of one day- the very day that Gribble’s drama is set to open- but let me tell you that it is as uneventful a day as any other. Louiso attempts some sort of lesson on post-high school insecurities, especially those who continue to hold on to their idealistic dreams with the passing of time. Unfortunately, with little character development, it’s hard to ask his audience to empathise with the plight of Pease or Gribble. In fact, none of the characters do matter, because they seem so inconsequential that you’d easily dismiss them not long into the film.
If the characters don’t matter, then neither does the half-baked plot. You know going in that Marc Pease will have his day by the time the movie ends, but everything unfolds at such a predictable manner that it’s hard to be engaged for long. Worse still, this reviewer was only amused once throughout the whole film- the scene where the members of Meridian 8 are harmonizing in the bathroom while off-screen you hear a man urinating. It speaks volumes of the kind of material on display if this is to be the most comical scene of the entire film.
And Schwartzman and Stiller seem fully aware of the mediocrities of this film. Those who follow indie darling Schwartzman and his Wes Anderson-movies will know that he is all too capable of dark humour but he seems to display little attempt here at any of that or for that matter, getting into character. Ditto for Stiller, playing the umpteenth snarky character of his career, who reportedly completed his scenes in just two weeks- including a singing of “Magic to Do” from “Pippin”.
It is puzzling who the makers of this abysmal film thought they were making a movie for. Given how unfunny or undramatic it is, this reviewer isn’t entirely sure. But he does know one thing- if this is what the Marc Pease experience is going to be, you’re better off giving it a miss.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound here is just as flat as the movie. Visuals are clear without any visible defect.
Review by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 10 Jun 2010