Things start innocuously, in a parking lot where Samantha (Angelia Landis) and Edward (Josh Randall) meet when she accidentally dings his SUV. She gives him the business card for her dogwalking business as a means of contact info, and is musing about his handsomeness to her one employee, Felicia (Robyn Cohen) when he shows up at said business and hires her to look after his cute Maltese puppy. Although Felicia practically shoves Samantha out of the way to try and hook up with Edward (who happens to be a doctor), things don't seem too weird until Felicia ends up hospitalized with a bullet in her leg and a mysterious story about Edward disappearing on her. Before long, Samantha's pieced together that the Maltese is more valuable than Edward's let on, and it's up to her whether or not to trust him when it comes to trying to protect the poor puppy.
What Bahr seems to envision Boned as is a Coen-esque series of escalating events, mixing mystery and romance with dark comedy. (She's also clearly a little inspired by Humphrey Bogart, what with the joke of the film's MacGuffin being a Maltese, among other minor references.) The complicated result is a movie that both proves Bahr has the ability to understand the pieces, and put them on screen, just not the knack for weaving them together with the kind of oomph or crackle that would bring Boned to life. Between the delivery of Edward's dog and the big finale, Samantha finds herself dealing with defeating advice from her drama teacher, Nina (Jomarie Ward), unexpected developments in the kind of "medicine" that Edward specializes in, a tense audition with her seething ex-boyfriend Julian (Chris Mollica), a gang of weird goth kids who make for ineffective muscle, and their leader, a dominatrix known as The Mistress (Bai Ling). Watching the film, it's easy to tell how the pieces are meant to be zigging and zagging in and out of one another, but the momentum never quite materializes.
Although the movie's pacing is languid, even as action and suspense unfold, Boned is constantly buoyed by lead actor Angela Landis, whose screen presence is nicely laid-back. One of the great risks of doing something in this particular comic vein is the potential for too much exaggeration from a bunch of performers who gild the comic lily into oblivion. Instead, Landis serves as a warm and enjoyable anchor for the movie that helps keep the movie engaging even when it drags in other areas. In fact, the picture is decently cast across the board, with Randall finding the right line to walk between suave and suspicious, and even the notoriously unpredictable Ling turning in a nicely controlled performance (within the context of her being a dog-napping dominatrix queen, that is).
By the time the credits roll (which, unlike many films as of late, scroll by at a reasonable pace without any attempt to pad out the movie's 80-minute running time), Boned doesn't amount to much more than an imperfect, pleasant diversion, but even if the movie can't quite come together, it's nice to get the sense that what doesn't work about the movie could be fixed on a future project, rather than the idea that someone's ego was bigger than their reach. There's a sense of self-control here that's refreshing, a willingness to go for something subtle rather than big every time. Hopefully Bahr and Landis return with another project, this time on a tighter leash.
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