I love indie comedies for what they represent; new, untested talent on the horizon. Yet it's often hard to take indie comedies for what they sometimes are; interesting ideas wrapped in all kinds of pain. Low budgets and fledgling craftspeople have so much to surmount that - unless those good sparks one finds are so hot they can melt metal - even the tiniest slips (poor stock soundtrack choices, occasionally flubbed focus) just pile up until the movie's lost any hope. Despite a kooky, feel-good premise, the romantic comedy Saturday Morning is on the deficit side of the hope-mobile.
Go ahead and infer from the above that judging indie comedies isn't fair. You're right. Heck, movie criticism itself isn't fair, since most of us have never made a movie (does 3 minutes of Super 8 count?). Slimier still, part of why Saturday Morning doesn't work might be down to superficial aspects of casting. Affable, awkward Joey Piscopo (son of the SNL alum Joe) just doesn't cut it as a lead. As Wes Selman, Piscopo's unlucky-in-love nebbish looks the part, and has serviceable comic timing, but that's about it. Forced to wake up early one Saturday morning, Selman finds a two-hour window during which the world is a cockeyed utopia; not only does everything go right for Selman, he even calls a beautiful woman a skanky whore before successfully bedding her. Soon I'm questioning my depth, as Selman confides in best friend Frankie (Louis Mandylor). Piscopo's self-conscious dorkiness projects well beyond necessity, while Mandylor, by mere dint of being more attractive, seems the more talented actor. (Mandylor's superior chops are empirical, but one wonders how much of our deference to him is down to looks.) Whatever the case, it's one of many imbalances from which the movie never recovers.
As a comedy, Saturday Morning wastes a lot of time on too-broad humor that just falls flat. When Selman crashes into a garbage can a lobster head sticks to his shirt for days. Some bits work, such as when a seriously self-involved lothario gets off on the song 'The Little Pony Crosses the Road,' but many of the jokes mirror Selman's uncertainty. As a romance - Selman falls for a woman during the magic morning, but can't figure out how to keep her interested the rest of the week - sparks are totally absent. A superficial shared interest in '70s TV appears to be Selman's only bond to his object of desire Lisa, (Valerie Feingold) so it's really no wonder she loses interest when the Saturday morning spell wears off.
Conceptually, this movie has real potential, but it fails to make the grade on many points, including music. At best, a soundtrack unobtrusively enhances a mood, but grating singer-songwriter numbers here intrude harshly, while an overabundance of (probably) stock cues rife with plucky strings screams 'this stuff is funny, right ... right?' Even with a sprightly 79-minute total runtime, Saturday Morning has too much going against it to be more than mildly amusing, (if not mildly annoying). A few chuckles and a wholly sincere cast keep the movie safe from derision, but not really worthy of recommendation.
Saturday Morning will find you rolling out of bed and into an adequate 1.85:1 ratio widescreen presentation. Our screener copy might not represent final product, but if it does, expect OK details and sharpness, with some aliasing and occasional evidence of overuse of noise reduction. Colors are well employed stylistically, from glowing autumnal colors full of the sweet light (representing those magical mornings) to cool grays and sallow skin tones for the rest of the drab week.
A Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 soundtrack also might not reflect final product. Some fluctuations in dialog volume are the main problem here, with soundtrack songs also sometimes coming on a little too strong.
No extras are included on this screener disc.
With due respect to all the talent and effort that goes into making any movie, the romantic indie comedy Saturday Morning seems, alas, to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. Cheesy 'comedy' music hamstrings mostly tepid or overdone attempts at humor, while lack of any romantic spark or even much likeability from the leads takes viewers out of contention for enjoying this effort. The smart, intriguing concept, of a golden hour early in the morning where everything goes right, deserves another go around, but this iteration earns a fence-sitting rating of a mild Rent It.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com