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NoParkingLand short film review

★★★


 

Driving in London is a nightmarish horror you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. And finding a place to park your car when you’re not driving it is probably the only thing that really comes close in terms of stress. It is easy to see why drivers would want to go full Frances McDormand and abandon society altogether, a point NoParkingLand makes with its hilarious, parking-themed send-up of this year’s Oscars darling.


Returning home to find her street has now become a controlled parking zone, Heather (Harriet Fisher) decides to join up with a secret community, the RPC, a group who meet up to avoid paying for parking and are led by a man who looks a LOT like Santa (Reuben Williams). As part of her new community, she gains a new appreciation of taking life slower and identifying what really matters – though she still doesn’t quite understand why she’s expected to use a bucket as a bathroom…


NoParkingLand is a solid short parody of Nomadland (of course) which cleverly and amusingly parodies its inspiration with witty lines and imitations but loses sense of its own story and theme in pursuit of this as its own story develops. Parodies of course are, by their nature, based upon a pre-existing work. But NoParkingLand could kept its focus a little more on its target that is more relatable to its audience– the outrageous cost and difficulty of parking in the capital – as opposed to following Nomadland’s story beats and script to a tee in order to cram in as many gags at its expense as possible – which become tentatively linked to its own plot at best.


However, related to the story or not, those gags almost all hit the mark and will get plenty of laughs from their audience. Beginning with Heather informing her sister she is “not parking spaceless, just parking permit-less” sets the lampoonish tone excellently. Unveiling Richard Smells – the man who looks like Santa – in a red suit and fake beard is the film’s prime laugh-out-loud moment. And a quick nod towards the McDormand/Strathairn romance story shows an appreciation for the source material whilst still poking fun at the expense of big budget Hollywood Oscar-bait films.


Straight-up parodies often face a common pitfall of becoming overly outlandish and over-the-top as they chase cheap gags to ridicule their source. Directors Mark Elias & Reuben Williams largely avoid this and provide the humour from witty dialogue rather than zany sight-gags or eye-rolling toilet humour – which is rather ironic considering one of Nomadland’s most famous scenes! Fine camerawork and an unexpectedly accomplished score even allow the film to hit upon some emotional moments it may have never intended upon.


Whilst NoParkingLand could have been more incisive in targeting London’s parking labyrinth, it is a fine watch as a straight-faced send-up of Hollywood’s favourite film of last year. A clear appreciation and love for its foundation, and some clever and comical lines make this an enjoyable watch for anyone who has seen Chloe Zhao’s masterpiece.


 

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