Sunday, December 6, 2009

Movie with Abe: The Strip

The Strip
Directed by Jameel Khan
Released December 4, 2009

Going to a strip mall in real life is already a gamble. There’s a chance you won’t find what you’re looking for, and an even greater chance that you’ll spend far more than you had planned on stuff you really just didn’t need. You’re much better off, however, spending a whole month’s worth of paychecks at your local strip mall than taking a trip to this cinematic one, where you’ll find yourself even more bored out of your mind than you might on an aimless shopping trip.

“The Strip” isn’t a terribly accurate title for this film. It would be more correct to call it “The Off-Brand Electronics Store” since it only features the employees of one outlet on the strip, though that likely won’t sell as well, especially since many might confuse the current title for a “Showgirls” sequel and be keener to see it. A rivalry between the employees of different stores would have been a decent idea, because what happens here is that animosities and competitions have to be created between the five employees of one low-rent establishment, and there isn’t really much room, literally or figuratively, for anyone to go, and there are only so many times the same jokes can be repeated over and over. Never before has a small store seemed so suffocating.

“The Strip” has a lackluster premise to work with, one which can easily be defined as following the lives of five guys who work the same dead-end job together. It doesn’t do anything to rise above that, and therefore it’s entirely uninteresting. It’s almost impossible to locate a laugh, and there isn’t even any despicable gross-out humor to try to elicit some sort of positive response from audiences. The worst part is that characters are given unappealing traits and engage in what writer-director Jameel Khan seems to mistakenly believe is hilarious, over-the-top, gross-out humor when it’s really anything but that. It’s immature, but not raunchy enough by a long stretch to be effective.

To counteract its supposedly depraved characters, like a wannabe actor and a homeless screwup, “The Strip” focuses on two nice guys as its protagonists. They may not be as dumb and destined for nothing as the others, but they’re equally boring as characters. Dave Foley is Glenn, the kind-hearted boss who strives to motivate his employees to pour their hearts into their low-rent jobs. Glenn is too giddy and excitable for his own good, and having a boss who actually encourages productivity and doesn’t do anything remotely obnoxious to try to make sure it gets done isn’t interesting. Rodney Scott is Kyle, the son of the store’s owner who acknowledges that this is not the life he wants to lead and contemplates doing something about it. Kyle’s story of a search for redemption and change doesn’t belong in this aimless film. The one intelligent character trying to escape this life would be better off escaping the movie. There’s absolutely nothing worth buying on this strip, so consider shopping somewhere else.


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