Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Monday, August 6, 2007

'Delivery Boy Chronicles' is fun but flawed

Delivery Boy Chronicles (2007)
Starring: Ralph Price, Shawn Mullins, Kelly Hobbs, and Chet Dixon
Director: Stacey Childers
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A group of slackers working as food delivery drivers struggle with the challenges of their dead-end job while looking for ways to make their dreams and aspirations come true... at least when they're not busy getting high.

"Delivery Boy Chronicles" is a loosely structured comedy that is more of a collection of sketches than a proper movie. The characters move from situation to situation as the film progresses, and while some of them tie together most do not. There is also little or no consequences to anything the characters get involved with, including the inadvertent abduction of a Dahli Lama-type character known as the Enlightened One.

The acting in "Delivery Boy Chronicles" is better than many low-budget films, and the dialogue is well written with each character having a distinct voice. Ralph Price (as would-be business magnate and inventor Mike) and Shawn Mullins (as the ever-sarcastic and bitter pothead drop-out) are the best of a fairly decent cast, showing excellent comic timing and delivering each line as if they really believe what they're saying. They also seem to be comfortable as screen actors, where I get the sense that co-stars Hobbs and Dixon might be more at home on stage. (Dixon's delivery in particular seems more like coming from a stage actor than someone who's used to film, despite the fact that he has numerous film credits to his name.)

However, actors can only do so much if they're dealing with a bad script. And, unfortunately, aside from some wellcrafted dialogue and a some funny situations, the script for "Delivery Boy Chronicles" is one that could have benefit ted from another full draft or two... and perhaps an additional rewriting of specific scenes once the shooting budget was set.

As it stands, the flaws with the film are such that they cause it to fall short of being a satisfying viewing experience.

First, there's the problem that the film's plot is very, very weak. Ostensibly, the plot is about Mike (Price) finally finding the hook he needs to get out of the food delivery business and into the ground floor of the business world. As a result, most of the other characters also have happy endings. But this story thread is hard to follow among all the other things going on, and the characters are poorly developed--none ever move beyond the broad stereotypes they represent (neo-hippie, capitalist, artist, anarchist)--so the audience can't share in Mike's satisfaction of finally building a "real life" because we just don't know enough about him. Further, it's not quite clear why Mike's ability to forge a path out of the delivery business gives the rest of the gang a chance to do the same. It also doesn't help matters than neither Mike nor any of the other characters ever seem to be totally down and out at any point in the film; since there are never any great lows for our "heroes," we can't muster great joy for them when everything works out.

Second, there are three times when the filmmakers attempt scenes that are beyond their means, something which can do great harm to a movie.

First, and least damaging, there's a scene where Mike is attacked by emus (or ostriches). Whether the filmmakers didn't want to expose the actor to actual bird-bites, whether a stunt person was unavailable/out of budget-reach, or whether the complete lack of long-shots can be explained by a reason I'm not quite grasping, the fact that Mike (or any actor) is never shown in the same frame as one of the birds make for very clumsy filmmaking. It's a minor problem, and it's one that could probably have been solved with a little more time and money. But, it keeps what should have been a gut-buster of a scene (and I've no doubt it was hilarious from beginning to end) from being little more than amusing.

There's also an outdoor music/counterculture festival that appears to be a big flop for the organizers, because of the tiny stage a band is performing on and the very few extras near it and around the "festival" area in general. I've seen the same mistake made on TV series and in other low budget films... if a scene calls for crowds, you're not going to be able to fake it with just a dozen or so people. You're going to need a hundred or more, and you're going to need the time and money to direct the extras properly and to get numerous shots to make sure your crowd appears much larger than it is. None of these were possible with "Deli every Boy Chronicles", either due to time or budget constraints. (And I'm certain the filmmakers weren't trying to make the festival look like a flop, because Tigg complains about the smell of incense wafting over the crowd, just before he notices the dreaded "mud people".)

The other scene that should have been scrapped and rewritten when the budget was known is the film's Big Finish where Magoo (Dixon) displays his giant "mouse-trap" game and Mike's career in business is launched. Since engineering and constructing a very elaborate construct was beyond the film's budget, the viewer gets to hear the sounds Magoo's device makes as it operates, while we see the reactions of the audience in attendance. The cartoony sound effects are amusing, but the scene is far from effective as far as the climax for a movie goes. (It would have been far better if the filmmakers had redone the scene in such a way that had Mike and Magoo preparing for the big exhibit, making their success evident but sparing themselves the embarrassment of trying to execute a scene they didn't have the money or crew for.)

"Delivery Boy Chronicles" is a well acted film with some very well-written dialogue. It's a truly charming movie that I want to like more than I do. Unfortunately, the end product is weighed down by a script that's a little too loose and by a couple of key scenes that don't come off right because the filmmakers had a vision that overreached their budget. The result is a funny film that is too flawed to rise above the low end of average. I had fun watching it, and I hope to see its stars--particularly Ralph Price and Shawn Mullins--in other films. This one might be a good addition to a Bad Move Night line-up, but it's not one I'd recommend for any other purpose, despite the fact it had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

1 comment:

  1. I strongly disagree with your review. Although the plot is a tad irratic, I believe that was the theme of the film. It was meant to be a sort of comedic story with a background of a plot. As an indie film, of course its story is over budget. As for the dialogue, it was extremely well written and played out by the actors. This film was meant to be a "gutbuster" much more than that of a narrative. It is a film for laughs, not awards, in other words. I think the writer and director did a phenomenal joob carrying out this film, (as the two are brother and sister) and hopefully go on to better things.