Directed by James Cappadoro
Starring Lars Lee, Trevor Williams, Timothy J. Cox, Alexandra Bartley
Short Film Review by Andrew Galvin
If this year’s brilliant Raw taught us anything, it’s that the tired college “frat” movie was in desperate need of an update. Focusing on the exploits of a group of young women in their freshman year, and using cannibalism as a background metaphor, the film felt fresh, daring and willing to give a new voice to intelligent young people.
The same cannot be said of We Just Want To Play, the debut short film from James Cappadoro, following the mishaps of a male rugby team at the fictional Ruckland University. The filmmakers openly admit their debt to the film that birthed the frat-house comedy, Animal House. That film’s sheer gall not just broke the mould on its 1978 release, it tore it into a million pieces, then set fire to it. However, the film’s attitude to women and stereotypes have dated, and Cappadoro has failed to recognise this, and learn lessons accordingly.
Four women feature in the film. While one member of the female cast stands as college president, two others are there to pillow fight in their bras, and the other (Alexandra Bartley, recalling Sarah Silverman in School of Rock) is on shrew-y girlfriend duty. So while we can’t necessarily judge a film like Animal House due to its age, we can expect a little more from a film made in the 21st century.
Writer Frank DeRosa’s script is as insipid and uninspired at his characters. His style aims for a knowing wink at the camera, but it lands far closer to smug and not-as-funny-as-it-thinks-it-is. Apparent zingers about Asians and noodles are too broad to find the irony those sort of risqué jokes need, and pretty much every other gag lacks punch, despite an often over-active delivery.
There are signs of promise for We Just Want To Play elsewhere, however. Cappadoro’s visual style feels bold, employing on-screen text and graphics well in our post-500 Days of Summer world. His editing style is energetic too, without pushing the speed of cuts to vomit-inducing levels. Given less deadweight material, he is a filmmaker who could really find his groove. Among the bland stereotypes, lead Lars Lee carries more than a little of Zac Efron’s charm, combining boyish good looks with a precise delivery—he gives his all, it’s just a shame that the film around him is closer to Dirty Grandpa than Charlie St Cloud.
Of course a run-time of just sixteen minutes makes it difficult for other cast members to make an impact. But when dealing with writing this hackneyed and lazy, they never really stood a chance at a try in the first place.