Ask any filmmaker why they attend film festivals, and they'll probably tell you that it stirs their creative spirits. Though they may abhor certain films, it instills in them confidence that they can do just as well or better than the film they saw. Such is the case of the four actors that drive "Baghead", a funny, genre-bending movie about stupid people with stupid ideas and even stupider actions.
Chad, Katherine, Matt and Michelle are all extras who attend the screening of a hilariously pretentious indie film. Determined they can make something twice as good, they decide to retreat to Matt's uncle's cabin in Big Bear for the weekend for an alcohol-soaked brainstorming session. Chad is tubby, balding and insecure, and is experiencing difficulty in making Michelle transition their relationship from friendly to romantic. Michelle has no interest in him beyond a brother-meets-best-friend hybrid, and really wants to hit the sheets with Matt. Matt, meanwhile, is on the verge of a mature, adult commitment with Katherine, whom he has dated intermittently for eleven years.
The four of them toss around a number of tepid plot ideas, but retire when nothing really substantial surfaces. That night, Michelle has a nightmare where she sees a man with a paper bag on his head snooping around the cabin at night. Matt soon parlays this into a ridiculously clichéd serial killer script concept, and sets off writing it. But when an actual "baghead" shows up and nobody confesses to playing any practical jokes, the film quickly turns into a satire of the same lame film these four have dreamt up.
The movie adeptly balances the comedy of the situation with the dramatic complexity that comes when friendships and lust collide. The performances are endearing and believable, with each character drawn distinct from the other: Chad is chubby, funny and sincere. Matt is classically attractive, spontaneous and a bit dim-witted, yet doesn't want to hurt his friend. Katherine is the grown-up who's partying days are over and is looking for a stable relationship. Michelle is the bubbly party girl with serious communication problems.
If there's anything that weakens this film, it's a few dead moments and the atrocious hand-held camera-work, which puzzlingly zoomed in and out with an ADD-like attention span. Still, the script and performances were fun and engrossing.
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