Directed by: Peter J. Calvin
Written by: Brent Crable
Starring: Brent Crable, Jeff Garlish
The word “patriotic” is synonymous with our brave soldiers. They tirelessly serve their country and expect nothing grand from the citizens they protect. We all know about the dangers and troubles faced by our men in uniform. There have been jillions of movies depicting the gallantry of the soldiers, sometimes plunging us in the middle of a war at Omaha Beach (Saving Private Ryan) or by taking us along a race-against-time objective using the trickery of one-continuous shot (1917). Over the years, these men have formed a sharp image of courage inside our minds. They are always on alert. They always do their jobs. They have no days off.
This is where Peter J. Calvin’s No Dayz Off comes to invert your notions. In fact, its entire concept is based on this reversal. Instead of daring fighters, No Dayz Off introduces us to two meek German soldiers. They are Franz (Jeff Garlish) and Hanz (Brent Crable). The day we meet them, i.e., when the short begins, the two are shown reluctant to go and do their jobs. It’s not hard to imagine that they would have felt the same way almost every day. I can imagine them being forced to join the army against their wills. Or they could have passion for it at some earlier point of their life but now dread every single day of it.
And so on this particular day (on their daily route), when their car breaks down and catches fire, they start to see everything as a sign from the universe telling them to skip the daily task for this one day. Franz is more than willing to flee from the responsibilities. “What’s the worse that could happen?” he asks his partner Hanz. Well, Hanz is the type of person who wants to have fun but also assumes the worst outcome of every situation, probably to prepare himself mentally for any unwanted surprises. We all know such people who crave thrills though not without preaching caution to us. So while Franz sparks plans of bunking from the routine, Hanz shows faint encouragement followed by a pool of disastrous probabilities. The duo never even bother to acknowledge the bombs and gunshots being fired at a distance. Even to these protagonists, these sounds become nothing more than background noise.
I would have liked to know more about these people. It’s clear they have no interest in the ongoing fight and would have nothing to say about their current state. But it would have been richer to know at least about their likes and dislikes. Do they enjoy cooking? What are their hobbies? Or any other personal detail informing us more about them. I understand you can’t do much in a short film, but a line or two would have sufficed. And while I didn’t laugh the way the lead performances demanded, they nevertheless put a smile on my face.