Bart Got A Room

"Excellent"

Bart Got A Room Review


High school coming-of-age films have recently been overflowing movie screens like stuffed toilets. They can be hard-edged and true like Adventureland. Or raunchy yet soft and fuzzy like Superbad. Or they can be totally wacky, as is the case with Brian Hecker's Bart Got a Room.

Hecker's rite-of-passage romp, about a high school senior and resident twerp who strings out getting a prom date until the last second, takes place in an over-baked retirement community in Florida where the youngsters look like sprites among the old-folks majority. Hecker's take on the plastic, ready-to-go community is a nutty cartoonish style, taking its influence from Frank Tashlin -- a place of consumer detritus baking, along with the residents, in the bright light of the leisure world.

Danny Stein (Steven Kaplan) is the kind of over-achieving, personable high school dweeb that girls prefer only as a good friend. Danny wants more than that but not much more -- he just wants to take a girl to the prom. The film plays out as a series of increasingly absurd blackout sketches as Danny asks a battery of unavailable girls to go with him but keeps getting summarily rejected, becoming along the way increasingly desperate and frazzled. And yet with all the commotion, Danny doesn't see the prize in front of him -- his long time friend Camille (Alia Shawkat). She wants Danny to ask her but Danny is too lunkheaded to do so.

But Danny isn't the only child with dating problems. His separated parents Beth and Ernie (Cheryl Hines and William H. Macy -- Macy donning a hilarious red 'fro) are also seeking companionship and having a rough time of it. Ernie has it the worst. He asks Danny's advice on the middle-aged women he is dating (trying to solicit Danny's opinion about a prospect's posterior charms, he tells Danny, "You should know. You're an ass man!") and engages in chat room sex (he's a fast typist). But both are concerned with Danny and his problems in getting a prom date -- Macy even breaks his own date without batting an eye to help Danny out.

In his treatment of Beth and Ernie, Hecker displays the charm of the movie. There are no bad or mean people in Bart Got a Room. The characters are all likable and sympathetic (Dinah Manoff is particularly engaging as Mrs. Goodman, Camille's mom).

Hecker sets the film in a nightmare landscape of a bright, golden-sunned retirement community with retirees positioned as bric-a-brac in the compositions. Old folks are seen taking up the seats in restaurants as they hit the early bird specials, spitting past in the background on their golf carts, and even being removed from their retirement homes in body bags. Real flamingoes populate the roadside and plastic flamingoes grace the lawns.

Hecker creates the impossible, out of environs of pure cheese, and has created a comedy of warmth and joy. When Danny dances at a Bar Mitzvah with his parents and Camille, you want to enter the screen and join them.

Another Shirley Temple, my good man.



Bart Got A Room

Facts and Figures

Run time: 80 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th April 2008

Distributed by: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 5.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Brian Hecker

Producer: , Daniela Taplin Lundberg, , Jai Stefan, Tony Shawkat

Starring: as Danny, William H. Macy as Ernie Stein, as Beth Stein, as Camille, as Alice, as Craig, as Abby, as Bob, as Melinda, as Mrs. Goodson

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