Movie: This week was one where I spent a lot of time watching a number of so called "black" comedies. Unlike the syrupy sweet comedies that Hollywood produces (by committee or focus group), such films are known to take things off the beaten path and explore new territory in ways that are generally not considered socially acceptable. Such is the case with a little charmer known as Suckerfish.
The movie centered on a group of three salesmen who are competitors in selling pet food and supplies to small stores. I know that sounds kind of lame but those of us who've been in sales know how untapped the potential is for all kinds of movies relating to sales. The story started off with a new guy, Ken, who takes over the area from an established professional, "Whitey" who retired. One of the older sales rep's, Dick, decides that this is a golden opportunity to expand his territory. Dick's way of moving product is to huckster and lie, leaving no stone unturned in his attempts to get a bigger commission. He comes up with a plan to slander Ken, telling the store owners that Ken is involved in all kinds of anti-animal activities from lab experiments to poisoning animals. Knowing his credibility is probably not the best, he enlists another competitor, Alan. Alan's a likeable guy who stretches the truth a bit but is otherwise a much milder version of Dick. The two talk about Ken all over town and see their own sales grow. A pleasant guy, Ken finds himself losing out on sales that should've been easy and the store owners treat him like he's Charles Manson's bigger brother. When he overhears the warehouse foreman discussing the rumors, he also happens to find out that Alan is sleeping with Dick's wife. Using this ammunition, he plans to turn things around by playing the game as effectively as his competitors. Here's what the boxcover said: "Suckerfish is a black comedy about pet supply salesmen and the vicious turf war that erupts when a super-salesman retires and is replaced by an ambitious young salesman from the mid-west. Two fiercely competing sales guys must now join together to squeeze out the new guy and they waste no time in launching a full-blown smear campaign. Everything seems to be going according to plan when a love affair pops up in their midst, complicating things beyond repair. It is only a matter of time before someone really gets hurt in this- perhaps the quirkiest- comedy of the year."
Picture: The movie was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The colors were often too deep and the picture not really high end quality. It was good enough to watch but I hope future efforts are better.
Sound: The sound was presented in 2.0 Stereo English with no subtitles or closed captions. It was generally clear enough to enjoy the show but not top notch.
Extras: There was a 25 minute long featurette on improvisational techniques for directors & actors. It showed how the cast worked through several scenes but was of really weak quality.
Final Thoughts: The movie was "written" in an interesting manner. It was completely improvised by the cast who did a great job with one another. Obviously some of the cast have had bad experiences with pet store owners who are portrayed as weak willed, retarded, or otherwise goofy suckers who are easily manipulated and actors are often compared to salesmen in how they "sell" a character so they were in familiar territory. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie a lot and found the humor strikingly fresh at times. If the technical qualities were higher, I'd be pushing this like "fish shine" (insider joke-watch the movie) but as is, I can only rate it as Recommended. On an interesting side note, I believe that the female lead, Gerri Lawlor, is one of the voice actresses in the computer game, The Sims.