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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » 305
305
Allumination Filmworks // PG-13 // July 8, 2008
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Kauffman | posted July 4, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:
You gotta love the little guys. As soon as 300 was released to at least middling critical acclaim and some behemoth box office, it seemed ripe for parody (in fact some wags insisted it was a parody to begin with). And so what does Hollywood do of course but throw money into the execrable Meet the Spartans, which was so bad it wasn't even funny bad. And then along come the Holechek twins with nary a million (some might say a thousand) to their name who produce a short called 305, which they upload to YouTube. After over four million hits, and as fast you can say development deal, they are then offered the chance to expand their short into a feature length direct to DVD film which I think I can safely proclaim is the Citizen Kane of 300 parodies.

The basic plot of the film follows the exploits of five not exactly grade A Spartans who are sent by King Leonidas to guard a goat path while the infamous 300 stave off defeat for as long as they can. The brothers Holechek and their actors make no bones about melding the storyline and filmic look of 300 with the comedic ambience of television's The Office. Therefore, you get gags like Spartan leader Claudius (a hilarious Tim Larson) always holding a coffee mug, even as he stares in disbelief at the advancing Persians. To me, however, the tone of the piece was strangely more reminiscent of Reno 911!, with a bunch of dunderheaded but well-meaning goofs getting into one predicament after another, intercut with uproariously deadpan interview segments played straight (so to speak) to the camera.

There's some very sharp writing here, or at the very least some very sharp spontaneous improvisatory madness at work. Early in the film as Darryl (David Schultz) goes to "talk" to the Persians, putative hunk Testiclese (Brandon Tyra) confesses, "They say you're only as strong as your weakest link." Cut to Darryl about to get his ass kicked. "That concerns me." Later in the film there's a great moment where Claudius commiserates with his torturing captor after the whip-master admits he's having girlfriend problems. Several of the sight gags are outrageously silly in a Monty Python vein, but usually deliver the goods, as when the Oracle turns out to be, shall we say, sexually ambiguous. The entire enterprise is simply so good-natured that it's hard not to like it even when some of the jokes don't land and others are blatantly sophomoric.

David and Daniel Holechek have done an amazing job on what must have been a miniscule budget recreating a lot of the look of 300, down to the green-screened in environments and the blanched, over-yellow look of the original film. For such a small budget feature, there are some impressive moments here, including a neat crane shot at the top (with some cool digital light refraction effects) and, toward the end, an equally impressive multi-leveled brawl that is excellently staged and well-conceived. Hanna Lim's great underscore adds a lot of punch to the proceedings, and the patently silly power ballads are perfect parodies in their own right.

All of the actors are, for want of a better term, a hoot. The standouts are Larson as Claudius (Larson comes off as a sort of junior John Candy at times), Schultz as Darryl and Tyra as Testiclese, all of whom do "clueless" rather brilliantly, with some great double-takes and confused looks. Adding to the mayhem are a blind Spartan who goes undercover as a lounge pianist (Sunny Peabody), an alluring Miss who convinces Testiclese to help rescue Sparta (Heaven Peabody) and a Persian emissary (Nate Hopkins, who also supervised the surprisingly well done visual effects) who looks positively dashing with a carrot sticking out of his head.

305 is slight, to be sure, but it augurs well for the future of the Holechek twins, as well as their principal cast. With a big budget, who knows what's possible? They may be able to come up with something that some other kid out there in the dark wants to parody and upload to YouTube.

The DVD

Video:
305 is presented in a nice enhanced 1.78:1 transfer that reproduces the soft look of the original 300 to a tee. Colors are purposely blanched, leaving the palette alternately yellow or sepia.

Sound:
The DD 2.0 soundtrack is fine, though I heard a bit of distortion from time to time at louder moments. A lot of the film was looped, so you will notice occasional lip-synching problems, but nothing is too egregious.

Extras:
305 has quite a few nice extras, including two commentaries, one by the Holechek brothers, which is fairly restrained and concentrates more on filming methods, and a fairly raucous one with the actors, which comes off as something akin to a frat party reunion. Also included are deleted scenes, a making of featurette (with one hilarious moment when the brothers are schlepping their "green screen" in a station wagon to a new site due to a power outage), the original short which started it all, "interviews" with the cast in character, "cutting room floor" scenes of the actors working in front of the green screen, an "on the road" featurette with the cast, and a silly, though funny, visual effects featurette.

Final Thoughts:
My prediction is the Holechek brothers are about to be the new Zucker brothers, and that (hopefully) is a good thing. Yes, 305 is just flat-out silly, but that's also a good thing. Recommended.

____________________________________________
"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet

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