Directed by Michael Arell
Starring Michael Arell, Greg Sorokin, Alyssa Dubois, Craig Popper, & Michael Armstrong
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
There has been an explosion in recent years of new filmmakers, brought on, most likely, by the abundance of platforms to appear on, access to increasingly professional equipment at cheaper prices, and a general ethos that permeates social media channels that anyone can do anything as long as they try. Whilst all of these are facts, there is something fundamental about filmmaking that has remained as true today as it always has: true quality will prevail. Indie film Slim, from writer and director Michael Arell, sadly lacks many fundamentals of filmmaking whilst taking a joke so far that it loses all appeal within the opening frames.
Arell plays the titular character of Slim, ironically an overweight archaeologist-cum-adventurer who finds himself on a hazardous quest, facing off with belligerent nuns and mild peril. Travelling to Nunzonia, he is searching for a valuable golden item, but finds a lot more than he bargained for. Think Indiana Jones (with no budget or style) meets high school movie project and you are in the right ballpark.
To go much more into the plot would be a. very difficult given its limitations, and b. give too much credit to the "storytelling" going on. Slim is pitched as a comedy, but unlike the farcical masterpieces of filmmakers like Mel Brooks or Woody Allen, or even the Wayans brothers, there is an immense lacking in the passion from Arell as a director. Every aspect of the film has been overlooked, with no creative skill or flair emerging. From the horrendous dubbing of the voices to the PowerPoint presentation in the editing, the term amateur doesn't seem to do justice to how bad this film is. The performances are just a bunch of kids mucking around with a camera, falling over haphazardly or guffawing at each other, and the jokes are painfully sparse, landing only several times over the whole running time. A couple of the characters had what looked like sheets stuffed down their tops to suggest a bigger build, an example of the infantile attempt at cheap laughs. One scene comparing an epic fail with a splashing whale at SeaWorld was pretty decent though, and Arell himself manages to take a few scenes seriously, especially in the final third.
The sound editing is terrible, with voices being too low to even hear at times and disjointed during sequences when they were obviously recorded separately from the visuals, whilst the score is okay but seemed thoughtless and fickle. It is this kind of dispassionate approach to filmmaking that will really irk viewers, in that Slim as a movie doesn't really try attempt to impress. It just jokes around. Whilst most filmmakers would stick to their strengths to tell their story, and avoid pointless frivolity and tactics which cheapen their movie, this film seems happy to revel in its awfulness. There were so many elements which could have been removed or avoided. For example, don't have a huge cast of non-actors littering the film when their characters are superfluous. Now it may seem like I'm being a bit harsh, but there is a nastiness to Slim that seems to enjoy being feckless and disappointing. There were moments where they could have simplified everything and got to the crux of the plot, but instead engaged in mindless, slapstick antics.
I would however applaud the numerous locations used, and there is a pretty thrilling car chase at one point, but if you are dealing with a shoe-string budget perhaps this would have been better spent elsewhere?
Proof that anyone can make a film, Arell's attempt is also proof of why not everyone should. It is not enough to simply launch a load of pointless scenes and clips together and call it a movie. There is an artistry completely missing, as is the basic need to want to make something worthwhile.