14 April 2012 | bob the moo
Nice film of a lovely gesture but never quite as good as a film as it is as an idea
Caine is a young child who hangs around his father's car parts business in East LA. With the business mostly now online, Caine starts to build an arcade out of old cardboard boxes, setting up elaborate machines, tickets and even calculators to check the serial numbers on his multi-passes. The one thing he lacks is customers – until, that is, aspiring filmmaker Nirvan Mullick stops by to get a part, plays the arcade and decides to do something nice for Caine.
This short film is the most recent thing to go viral on the internet - just like those videos of Downfall with different subtitles, the Skyrim Fus-Ro-Dah sound over people and animals taking falls and all manner of other videos and jokes. On this occasion though, the basic idea is worthy of attention and is actually quite uplifting and not just another joke or quick laugh – indeed at 10 minutes it is a lot longer than the usual viral videos which are often punchy and short. There is a lot of praise for this film at the moment but for me I need to separate the gesture from the film – because they are two different things.
In terms of the gesture and the characters, it is all good stuff. Caine is likable and cute – he is active and clever and it is hard not to like his from the very start. The gesture itself is lovely – using the power of the internet to organise a small crowd of people to show up and play his arcade one afternoon just to make him feel good. In this regard it is a great little story to put at the end of the local news because it is kind, thoughtful, inventive and rewards a child who is displaying the values we're all supposed to aspire to – starting a business, working with his hands, building something from nothing, being a self-made man, er, boy. It is all here and, like I said, if this was five minutes at the end of the news (essentially a tighter version of this film) then it would fit perfectly.
However Mullick has made this into a stand-alone short film and I watched it as such. All of the qualities of the news-report are here; it is moving and it tells the nice story. However it never feels like anything other than a "and finally" clip at the end of the news. There isn't much in the way of structure to it and the way they have gotten some shots gives too much of the film a rather "staged" unnatural feel that doesn't stand up well to the 10 minute running time. I didn't like the lack of "point" either – the gesture itself is the "end" of the film in the most part - although the final clips of Caine over the credits are good - particularly his final sentence is sure to draw tears!
Overall though, this is a nice film that details a thoughtful gesture that demonstrates the best of the internet (a place best known in the media for trolls, fights over petty details, cat pictures and, well, a lot of pornography); in this regard the film is worth seeing. Sadly as a short film it is a bit too basic and has a very basic structure that tells the story in a straightforward way rather than building it, elaborating on it, making it dramatic etc. Watch it for a nice 10 minute bit of "warmth of humanity", but as a short film it sadly falls short of its own content.