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Fun / Movies

Print-version title: Film by Friedman Brothers is full of great wit
Spy local spots, bizarre wit in ''Moving''

By MAL VINCENT, The Virginian-Pilot
February 27, 2002

PUNGO, the Portsmouth waterfront, Granby Street and some 40 other local sites co-star in ``Moving,'' which premieres at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Jeanne and George Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk.

The film by Jonathan and Matthew Friedman has been in the works for two years.

Directed by Jonathan and co-written by them both, the road comedy was filmed on digital video. The result is a professional-looking product that offers a few wry surprises.

It is the story of two friends' cross-country trek to unravel the mystery of who stole the house.

That's right. The house. In the opening scene, we see the house being carted off. Ron arrives home from work to find only a toothbrush where his house once stood. He and his best friend, John, are stymied when they are accused of insurance fraud when they report the theft. They hit flea markets and all kinds of Hampton Roads locations as they try to track the sale of household items.

L. Derek Leonidoff and Terry Jernigan bring good-ol'-boy camaraderie to their roles of hapless buddies. Since they are in almost every scene, a good deal depends on the interplay between them. They bring a Jimmy Stewart-Jack Lemmon kind of vulnerability to their playing.

``Moving'' is 30 minutes too long, but it somehow manages to revive interest with a wry bit of cleverness just when it's about to run out of steam.

For example, there is the moment when Ron, holding his toothbrush aloft, makes a kind of Scarlet O'Hara ``I'll never be hungry again'' speech as he vows to apprehend the crooks.

There's also the laughable moment when one of the buddies announces that he wants to talk about ``stuff.'' It's clearly a spoof on those serious moments when a movie stops to ponder ``profound'' things. This is a little gem.

Then, there are groaners like the line that ``flattery will get you underwear.''

But there is an ingeniously absurd finale in which Justin Mykael plays a gang leader named Leonardo DiCaprio who is battling with his older sister, Francesca DiCaprio, over who will inherit the family casino and gambling fortune. Francesca, usually gagged, is played by Kristin Mykael.

The real-life Leonardo DiCaprio, incidentally, has been invited to the premiere.

The road to New Jersey looks suspiciously like the Interstate 264 Virginia Beach-Norfolk expressway, but no matter. Along the way, we meet some familiar faces from local stage.

Kera O'Bryon (Sister Sarah at Virginia Musical Theater's ``Guys and Dolls'') is, with Virginia Bloom, two hot-chick gun molls who give the boys a ride. Tim Morton has the double role of Bad Teeth, an in-bred backwoods type, and Pierre, a sophisticate. G.F. Rowe, veteran director and actor, is a passing motorist. Carol Chittum (the Generic Theater vet) is a mom at an Anti-Establishment meeting. Gary Spell, director of the much-missed Founders Inn Dinner Theater, is a wacky insurance investigator.

In a running gag that should have run longer, Katherine Poirier plays a mysterious woman who constantly says, ``My name is Devonah. Remember it. I will not repeat it.'' Of course, she does repeat it.

Forgoing ``Blair Witch'' kind of histrionics, the Friedman brothers have gone where few new filmmakers dare to go -- to comedy. Although already accepted for festivals at Los Angeles and Las Vegas, they will have a tougher time with the festivals than they would have with a so-called ``serious'' film. Using funds gathered from their graphic design of the best-selling book ``Conversations with God,'' they have proven they have both the technical savvy and the bizarre wit for such a project.

No charity work is needed to buy this ticket. There is great fun in spotting the local folk and locales and the Friedmans' wit is just off-kilter enough to hold the interest through what would have been an otherwise rather ordinary trip. The Leonardo DiCaprio spoof is, alone, a touch of insane mirth.

  • Reach Mal Vincent at 446-2347.
 

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