From the POV of a hack staring down a plain-looking DVD-R containing a movie called Stonerville, about which one finds very little on the Internet, things seem mildly intriguing. Intrigue is sorely lacking from life when one spends one's time reviewing DVDs for free. So when the movie starts on its own, and eventually the words Slam I Am appear during what might be the credits sequence - words which might be the movie's other title or just weird supergraphics meant to confuse - when these things happen, fate's weird design has given your movie, which we'll call Stonerville, a head start. Toss in recently deceased star Leslie Nielsen doing his patented deadpan/addlepated introduction and simply coast to the finish line.
But Stonerville is really weird, too, and neither title fits. The movie's a bit like Kentucky Fried Movie with a modern twist, melding a handful of differing feels in a way that keeps you constantly on edge. It didn't really work for me at first, seeming way too slick, smooth and bland. Canny pacing, sharp editing, these things can make a low-budget movie seem soulless. (We know it's a low-budget movie because the opening graduation ceremony displays only 8 graduates.) During the reception, our hero "Slam" (Patrick Cavanaugh) comments with his buddy over the various families hitting the steam-trays, clans with painfully obvious names like The Slumps - they all slump over like hunchbacks. Hopefully we won't be seeing any more lame jokes like this.
"Slam" is a viral video guru - he directs phony advertisements that garner millions of hits in short order. But he's also a big-old stoner, a fact, interestingly, that seems to have no bearing on anything that happens in the movie. Every now-and-then the movie breaks for "Slam" and his roomie to rip massive bong hits, and that's about it. He's got a hot girl friend who leaves because he doesn't know what to do with his talents post-school, but also because he's not a rich asshole. But then another, even hotter girl comes along. Erica (Alex Mauriello) is not only hotter, she also acts (like everyone else in the movie) as if she has a split personality. Our grip on what's going on erodes further as "Slam" moves through more-and-more unrealistic situations, while the movie bops back and forth between reality and "Slam's" outrageous advertisements.
Thankfully, all this weirdness fairly quickly leads somewhere - nowhere that makes any sense, mind you, but it involves a mobster who owns a strip-club, plenty of nudity, and Pauly Shore as (I think) a gay sportscaster. These Family Guy-style shifts in tonal reality and what-not bust out with can't-fail fart jokes, ever-more offensive sexual hi-jinks, and "Slam" driving an AMC Gremlin. Shore is fabulous, reminding us that even though all of his movies, and his entire '90s shtick sucked, he had to have real talent to get there in the first place. Depravity, pointless pot smoking, nudity and ridiculous humor all blended together in a mysterious mélange with very little to hold onto in terms of throughput; yep, it's a new form of old-fashioned sketch comedy movie. Even Cavanaugh's sit-com smoothness (and disturbing resemblance to Jon Cryer and John Leguizamo's love-child) can't besmirch Stonerville's ultimately dominating, cracked humor, perfect for a mystery comedy that takes you completely by surprise.
Our DVD-R screener comes in a 1.85:1 ratio, but can't be considered representative of final product. Our review will be adjusted upon receipt of final product.
We also can't comment upon audio quality based upon the DVD-R screener.
Our DVD-R screener comes with no extras.
Though at first off-putting in its slickness and cheap humor, Stonerville quickly builds a weird head of steam by shifting uncontrollably between outrageous viral videos and other reality-bending scenarios. Plenty of nudity, sex jokes and gratuitous pot smoking mean Stonerville would be great for your next movie party. Outrageous, sexy and at times hilarious, it can't help but be Recommended.
- 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