Village People begins with a Youtube-like advertisement video of a resort in Nicaragua. We find out through some exposition that Alan (played by Brandon Scott) was supposed to visit said resort in an effort to save his flailing marriage, but instead his wife ditched him and he’s now forced to spend his vacation time with his dimwitted brother-in-law, Mike (played by George Basil). Mike has a list of things he wants to accomplish on their bro trip, chief amongst them are random sexual encounters, drugs, and hiking up a volcano, but Alan is too busy wallowing in his self-pity to truly take advantage of the beautiful scenery…at least until he begins falling for resort employee Barbara (Aya Cash), who opens him up to being more adventurous. Hijinks ensue, drama happens, conflicts are resolved, and the credits roll…they made this movie a few years ago back in 2008, it was called Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but that was a bit more mainstream and commercial, this is very much an indie film using a very similar premise and infusing it with an emphasis on drama and quirky humor.
“The three leads have great chemistry, and it features an absolutely hilarious sex scene…”
Okay, let me be very clear, I’m not saying this is a rip-off of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I’m just saying that they feel like two tonally different versions of the same film with the same message. Village People is original in its own ways, but premise is not one of them. It’s strength comes from it’s the characters, particularly Mike. Mike’s dialogue is anything but rapid fire, but the jokes are subtle. You’ll find yourself laughing moments after because your brain takes a minute to process the absurdity of what this character says, believes, and does. George Basil is a master with comedic timing, and I sincerely hope to see him pop-up in more stuff, he was great in this. I got a huge kick out of his rant about being a god on Yelp and threatening Barbara and the resort with a bad review. The character of Alan was whiny and annoying to me. Even after he regained his confidence and discovered his adventurous side, I still thought he was a loser. Later on, it becomes clear that that’s what was intended all along, but I will admit that Brandon Scott plays a decent straight man next to George Basil’s insanity and stupidity. Aya Cash as Barbara is pretty damned enjoyable and the snarky and cynical resort owner jaded by all of the Snapchat poseurs and Instagram posters that stay there just to post about it on social media. If you close your eyes, she sounds exactly like a far more sarcastic Zooey Deschanel.
There’s nothing groundbreaking about this film, and there honestly doesn’t have to be. It’s enjoyable, but definitely familiar, however it never feels boring or redundant. This film is far less concerned with being heavy on the humor and more concerned with lingering on the drama and the peculiar qualities of its characters and that sets it apart. I do think that the film’s climax was a bit weak and it felt tacked on, also there’s a scene where Mike and Alan are playing in the water and it cuts to footage shot with like a GoPro, or maybe an iPad or something…this is jarring and annoying. I’ve seen this done in a few films recently, and it has to stop, especially when you already have a capable cinematographer shooting your movie. The film looks great, and they really capture the exotic (and sometimes not so exotic) locales, but that one scene was so distracting and annoying I felt obligated to bring it up. The three leads have great chemistry, and it features an absolutely hilarious sex scene. There’s a lot to enjoy with this one, so if you’re in the mood for an indie twist on something fairly familiar, give Village People a watch.
Village People (2017) Directed by: Paul Briganti. Written by: Paul Briganti and Dan Schoenbrun. Starring: Brandon Scott, George Basil, Aya Cash, Megan Neuringer
7 out of 10