Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 17 November 2008
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Oh no, I thought, not another film glorifying the shallow life of club scene regulars. The title and subject matter initially put me off. However, I was not prepared for the way the film pokes fun at itself and establishes the absurd side of these nocturnal posers and ultra-cool yet clueless night-lifers. The tragically hip are hilarious here with their primping, slang, and laughable posturing. Cars are equipped with mega-bass amps that shatter glass. Kangol hats and bare chests are presented as requirements.
Good guy, but somewhat of a social nebbish with the corresponding name of Barry Shlotzak (Derek Walters) moves to San Bernardino, a city his obnoxious but well-meaning friend Doug (Charlie Finn) insists on calling San Bernardin-HO. Barry’s there to attend the local community college. Yes, he moved out of state from Ohio for a community college, poor guy.
Good girl and community college student double major Ryann (Jana Kramer) catches Brad’s eye on campus. Doug disapproves. Hasn’t Barry just moved away from clingy somewhat psycho-ex-girlfriend Tiffany? (Jayma Mays)
Doug takes Barry to a club and gives an experienced observational tour to his reluctant friend, pointing out groups like Thorough Heads, Box Heads, obvious minors and the omnipresent old guy, hanging on long past his prime. The rest of the population is merely “filler.” Then there’s the ultimate clique, which makes a hilarious slow motion entrance so you can view them in all of their splendid lunacy.
Three different types comprise this group: The Ali G wannabe and undisputed club king, Donnie Pintron (Jon Bernthal); The Sean Penn stoner/surfer dude from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Cory Lemuixk (Eric Laden) and the freestylin” black rapper that gives street cred to the pack, TJ Fykus (Affion Crockett). The hoochie mamas that hang around them could not purchase a clue with stolen cash. There’s Donnie’s sister Pennie (Nikki Griffin) and her sidekick Melanie (Jelynn Rodriguez). These two, inexplicably, also attend San Bernardino Community College, where Pennie brags that she can “remember things sometimes.”
Pintron is running a contest for a homie to join his clique as an intern, the chance of a misbegotten lifetime. Doug signs Barry up as part of his lifestyle makeover and wouldn’t you know it, Barry is picked as one of five finalists. You can safely say that he’s considered the white nerd of the group, which is comprised of Big Mikey, (Daniel Franzese) a white hip-hop aficionado, Brad Thunder, (Sam Horrigan) a stylin’ amputee, Ussef, (Ben Gleib) an intense Middle Eastern fanatic and Phillip (Thomas Hobson), Barry’s black nerd counterpart.
The competition’s on, featuring such inane challenges as picking up babes and dressing “fly.” Meanwhile Doug busies himself with detailing and “pimping” Barry’s ride. The transformation is almost complete. The reluctant Barry strains his relationship with Ryann while pursuing shallow Pennie. This straightens itself out in the end, as all such misunderstandings do in cinema-land, but not before some light bulb moments (of very dim wattage) that lead our man onto the right path – for now.
Club Doorman Clay (Charlie Murphy) can spot a minor without binoculars and will “X” the back of both their hands while spouting philosophical sayings and stories about the past, when Arnie (also Charlie Murphy) was the legendary doorman to then-Club King Ricky Fabulous (Jon Gries). Barry has several encounters with Clay, not all of them pleasant, but always educational. Clay’s one of the sane ones in this nightly circus, with the hidden wisdom of one who’s seen it all.
Walters, Finn, and Bernthal provide all of the laughs in this film, in different ways. Walters is the quiet voice of conscience and wavering reason. Finn is the smartass know-it-all who is not intimidated by his surroundings. Bernthal is the larger-than-life club master who plays it so seriously over the top that you have to laugh at his character’s lack of insight. Murphy proves to be a likeable screen presence.
Kramer, Mays and Griffin provide three different female types, only one of them (Kramer) acceptable. Mays’ character is the typical shrieking ex, wild-eyed and possessive that would make a man flee to a community college several thousand miles away. Griffin is the blonde that the jokes were made for: empty headed with a mean spirited smile and not enough brain power to light an appliance bulb.
Director/Writer/Producer Michael Pietrzak makes his feature film directorial debut with this effort. He also co-wrote and produced 3 Days to Vegas, starring Peter Falk and Rip Torn. Pietrzak owned nightclubs in his hometown of Buffalo, New York, which is where he got the inspiration for Bar Starz. He knows what to hone in on, what to ridicule and expose. Except for an unfortunate title and a completely unnecessary and gross scene at the beginning of the film (a fat student persistently cleans out his navel during Barry and Ryann’s first conversation) Pietrzak nails the superficial mindset that personifies the club scene and its nocturnal denizens.
Bar Starz earns its chicks as a parody, surprising no one more than this jaded, easily bored reviewer. I think a drink is in order.