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

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day of the Turkey: Community College

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the United States... and at Cinema Steve, we celebrate with turkeys, just like everyone else. (It's just that these are turkeys that may not be worth giving thanks for..)

Community College (2012)
Starring: Jordan McSorley, Tim Dean, Jon Dean, Tommy Avallone, Brian Hagan, and Mike Hadfield
Director: Tommy Avallone
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

 Four friends (Avallone, Dean, Dean, and McSorley), drunken slackers who are eternal students at their local community college, decide to pull themselves together and graduate so they can get enough money to buy their favorite bar so it doesn't close.

 "Community College" is one of those low-budget comedies that will keep you watching because the cast is so enthusiastic about what they're doing and because there are just enough jokes that work you keep thinking the film is on the verge of coming together and turning out for the better. But, as is usually the case, you will, when the end credits roll, find that your hope was in vain.

The biggest disappointment with "Community College", though, is that I have the sense it could have been a much better film if parts of it hadn't felt as if it was created by someone as lazy as its heroes. There is an inconsistency in tone throughout the movie, as it keeps flipping back and forth between a semi-realistic comedy (ala "Back to School") and bizarre comedy (ala "Animal House" or even "Airplane"); the first time it happens, you think one of the characters is hallucinating... but no--there really is a guy in bar dressed like an octopus.

Further, there are numerous plot-threads and joke set-ups that are either left under-developed or so badly exploited that you wish writer/director/co-star Tommy Avallone hadn't bothered. The worst of these manifests itself in the much-vaunted bowling ability of Jonny-300, as when we finally get to the point where he goes bowling, there isn't even a real shot of him doing so. In fact, the only jokes/plot elements that felt fully realized in the film was the strange environment of the friends' favorite bar, and the rivalry that develops between them and a little girl and her father over lemonade stands. Everything else has a half-assed, half-baked feel to it.

Near as I can tell, "Community College" has had a six-year journey from its filming (in 2006), through screenings at festivals and direct DVD sales by the producers (around 2009), until it was finally picked up and released by distributor Chemical Burn in the summer of 2012 -- a step that may have been prompted by the critically acclaimed comedy series "Community."

"Community College" isn't a total loss. If you are desperate for entertainment, there are worse ways you could spend your time. Also, the Chemical Burn DVD is crammed with bonus features, such as music videos and some seriously twisted cartoons which you may find more worthwhile than the main feature. As such, while the main feature may only rate Three Stars, the overall package gets a Six for bonus features that are quite extravagant when compared to what is offered on most discs.

Note: This review was based on a preview DVD provided by the distributor, Chemical Burn.

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