12 November 2005 | vlheid
John Ryman is not David Lynch...and that's good
The main problem I have with comparisons to David Lynch is that they rarely describe something that actually feels like David Lynch. It was with this in mind that I begrudgingly picked up "The Zeros", a newspaper quote emblazoned on the box cover making that inevitable comparison.
Forget David Lynch. Think Samuel Beckett and Albert Camus. Granted, this movie is strange, but not for effect; this movie is strange because without the strangeness it would be impossible to evoke the same emotional response and connection to the involved characters.
In "The Zeros", we have a classically doomed protagonist, Joe, suffering from an unidentified disease and trying to get back to a girl he knew in childhood, but whose significance to Joe remains blurred until the end of the movie. The beauty of this movie is that while it seems on the surface to be an oddball take on a buddy/road trip theme, it is delivered without resorting to one-liners or polished humor. The entire thing feels like the actors read the script once and then played out the characters the way they remembered them without dwelling too heavily on the specifics, making this feel like the most real performance ever of a completely absurd story.
It's always strange to find out that a character you're watching is someone you don't know that you know. Such was the case with Mackenzie Astin in "The Zeros", who I haven't seen since the old Disney movie "Iron Will" nearly a decade ago. Now I feel compelled to go back and find out what else he's done.
Throughout the movie, the cast of characters (who in any other movie would seem stale and depressing) stays keenly real. The beautiful capturing of this story, from the protagonist sitting alone in the desert to scenes of people doing nothing more than reacting to one another and searching for the right word, makes it seem like you have discovered somebody's lost home video, and it just happened to be terribly interesting.
The dialogue between Mackenzie Astin and John Ales is some of the best performed, ever. There are many potential pitfalls and so many ways they can ruin this script- it seems a very easy beast to get wrong- but they never falter. Watch this. Watch this if for no other reason than these guys give a wonderful performance. Watch this if you want to see Kyle Gass argue with a puppet. The script may be odd, but David Lynch this is not. It's too bizarre. It feels too real. I only wish it had been longer.