Occasionally, an aspiring artist of one sort or another contacts me and asks me to review his stuff. I’m always hesitant because A) I figure the work will suck and I only like to publicly ridicule celebs, not starving artists and B) I’m phenomenally lazy. I still haven’t mailed the final $100 my old school is trying to screw me out of so I can officially get the M.A. I earned over a year ago. What are the odds I’m going to open, read/watch/listen to someone’s project and then actually review it? Slim. Very slim.

For some reason though, I’ve actually gotten around to reviewing one such film: Four Letter Words. During the first few scenes, I thought my whole review would run something like “one Kevin Smith is more than enough.” A bunch of guys in their early 20’s talk about porn and girls. The production values are half a notch above Clerks which is probably a reason the film stayed on the festival circuit. I’ll point out here that, if you are the sort of person who goes to hear Kevin Smith speak at your college, you are sure to like this DVD and should buy it through the link bellow. Or above. I’m not sure where I’ll put it when I code the review.

After the first few scenes, the film picks up a bit more steam. It’s still just people talking, but the conversations get more interesting. For one thing, Four Letter Words is a bit more honest than Smith’s films. We all know that Kevin Smith didn’t get laid until he was casting Mallrats, but he has his ugly, comic book collecting characters choosing between 3 potential girlfriends. In this film, the dorky characters really are dorks. One of the funnier scenes is about a characters obsession with, not D&D, not “Star Trek” but “Dr. Who.” Brilliant touch and part of the overall realism of the characters, who deal with real aimlessness, rage and frustration.

What I liked most about the film was the character of Jordan, played by Mathew Maher. Weather the Daffy Duck speech impediment is an affectation or not, it’s hi-larious, especially in light of the fact that this character has the fewest hang ups and serves as kind of a voice of reason through all of the insecurities and anxieties of the other characters. Mostly though, Maher is given some of the best dialogue and is just a funny actor.

The “climax” of the film is another high point. I’ll go ahead and give it away. After a night of conversations and meandering, there’s this big build up like something more movie-like will happen, like the guy who weakly misses his chance with a girl will be run over by a drunk, or something. But then nothing happens and everybody just talks more. I was impressed by that.

I don’t want to oversell this one. It is a low budget effort from a first time director. Buy it expecting humor and thoughtfulness in a somewhat messy package, not Raging Bull. I’d put Four Letter Words a bit bellow similar films like Slacker and Clerks, but it’s immeasurably better thanFrom Justin to Kelly. Not that I saw From Justin to Kelly or anything.

One more reason to buy the DVD is that it comes with some extras, just like a big budget film. There’s a commentary and people make themselves throw up a lot.

Ruthless Ratings:

  • Number of times you turned away from the screen because someone was about to vomit and you were eating: 5
  • Number of times he actually vomited: 1
  • Was that the one time you didn’t look away?: Yes
  • Number of times the movie was paused to do something else.
  • Number of beers needed for optimal viewing: 4