Low budget films truly are the backbone of the movie industry. Each year indie features are released that are greeted with one degree of success or another. 2005's Searching for Bobby D is an example of one that connects with moderate success in what it attempts to do but for all intense and purposes falls short in the end.
The movie features a plot about an aspiring filmmaker getting his name out there and attempting to put together his opus. It's supposed to be a comedy that showcases the plight of a struggling script writer with the backdrop of a mob-like atmosphere. It's fun, sometimes witty, and entertains in spurts but ultimately the script feels shallow and the acting, even more so.
Johnny Argano (William DeMeo) spends his days and nights dreaming about starring in a film with Robert DeNiro. He wrote a script but hasn't been able to make any connections until one day while out on his vending machine route. He does a drop at a local pizzeria and the owner tells him that he knows bigwig Hollywood producer Sherri Dansen (Sandra Bernhard). Sherri finds herself being pestered about the script yet again once Johnny's uncle pulls in a mob style favor. Needless to say she agrees to meet with Johnny and to take a look at his work.
Feeding off of her advice Johnny and his three friends Jerome (Tyson Beckford), Tommy (Daniel Margotta), and Mike (James Madio) head out to Pennsylvania. In farm country they meet up with Cousin Leo (Louis Vanaria) who is less-than trustworthy to say the least. From one misadventure to the next they do whatever possible to con the simple folk into giving them money for their film.
One such sucker is a ranch owner with a passion for sheep; if you catch my drift. Just as the promised money is about to be placed in Johnny's hands the cops show up and arrest the man for bestiality. Luckily his son and daughter (Carmen Electra) are still there to supply the money. Other PA residents come out of the woodwork and are very stereotypical to this style of comedy. As things start getting pieced together the future looks bright for Johnny and company though for my taste it feels entirely too rushed in the last moments.
As a comedy Searching for Bobby D misses more than a few steps. There aren't very many laugh-out-loud moments and most of the jokes tend to be lame puns rather than well written gags. There's a lot of "gross out" humor employed here from farting to horny fat chicks and even sticky condoms. These lowbrow jokes are well and good but to be honest they have been done better in so many other films.
In terms of the acting, DeMeo does fine as Johnny but his presence is not nearly enough to carry the film. His slick smile only takes Searching for Bobby D so far. Don't look for Beckford or Electra to be saving graces for the movie either. Electra in particular adds nothing to this movie apart from a striptease-like dance though that's a fleeting moment of eye candy at best. She hams it up right along with the rest of the cast which makes the film tough to take seriously.
Not everything in Searching for Bobby D is bad though and at parts it can be quite charming. The thing that hurt the experience for me was a combination of poorly scripted scenes, a lack of chemistry between the cast, and amateur acting. Fans of DeMeo or those of you wanting to ogle Electra may want to check it out but anyone looking for a solid film will probably be as disappointed as I was.
Originally produced in 2005 Searching for Bobby D is presented with an anamorphic widescreen transfer. The picture is fairly decent for the most part considering the low budget that the movie had. Colors appear natural and the film has some fine contrast. Unfortunately there is a fine layer of grain over the picture, the image isn't very sharp, and there is quite a bit of dirt.
The DVD by Monarch is presented with English Dolby 2.0 as the only track available. As such it impresses only as far as a stereo track can. The front channels diversified the audio a little but not enough to leave a lasting impression. The volume balance was a little touchy as well since the music and sound effects tended to drown out some of the dialogue. In some scenes the audio even came across as muffled with a slight amount of static in the background. No subtitles are included.
There are two bonus features on the disc worth mentioning. First off is a collection of six deleted scenes. There is a bit from Johnny and Mike's audition, a scene from a gentleman's club, and even an alternate ending of sorts. These scenes are worth a look but ultimately don't add much to the experience. A six minute Behind the Scenes featurette is the other feature and includes plenty of backstage shots and some candid moments with the crew. For you Electra fans there're even some more clips of her sexy dance.
As a movie Searching for Bobby D has kind of a hard time standing on its own two legs. The plot is fun, some of the jokes work, and William DeMoe does a fine job as Johnny. Disappointment sets in thanks to acting that leaves much to be desired, poor chemistry, and an atmosphere that is often too goofy for its own good. This is a rollercoaster of a movie that wants to be liked but will keep you at bay more than endear itself to you. Still, if you're looking for a silly buddy movie with a few chuckles this one might be worth a rental but that is a weak recommendation at best.