In the absolutely brilliant Joe Versus The Volcano, the titular Tom Hanks-played character works in the basement of what seems to be a drudge factory. Writer-director J. Rick Castaneda’s sophomore feature, All Sorts, is apparently set in the upstairs of that dreary, soul-sucking workplace. This means the comedy is trading in very peculiar, somewhat deadpan humor. As such, the film may not hit on all cylinders for everyone, but if you love John Patrick Shanley’s classic, then this will hold some appeal.
Diego (Eli Vargas) feels adrift in life with no direction or friends. But, his luck seems to turn for the better when the eccentric Vasquez (Luis Deeze) hires him as a data entry clerk at Dataland. Diego gets to his cubicle with no help from his new colleagues, who ignore him, hyperfocused on their work and lives as they are. Once there, Diego discovers he has no desktop, which makes filing the data impossible.
But, before too long, Diego meets June (Greena Park), the only soul at Dataland who gives him the time of day. The two soon learn of a filing competition league, and Diego agrees to coach the timid but very fast June. All the while, Vasquez is asking Diego to do the impossible, as he still doesn’t have a computer. Will Diego uncover what happened to his desktop? Can June prove her worth and get into the filing finals?
All Sorts begins a little slow. Seeing Diego living out of his car for a spell doesn’t really factor into his arc. Also, there may be one or two scenes too many of Diego getting ignored by almost everyone at Dataland. But, once June and Diego meet, the story picks up considerably, and the stakes feel high.
“…soon learn of a filing competition league, and Diego agrees to coach the timid but very fast June.”
But, this is a comedy and therefore lives and dies by its punchlines. From the opening to the closing, Castaneda’s dialogue is so quirky and strange that it is always funny. There’s a brilliant recurring joke about a guy always calling “Brian” because of his girlfriend. The thing is, the person in that cubicle is not Brian. Just wait until you meet Dagmar; she’s terrific. The world is so unique and odd that mundane tasks become elevated to absurd status. This creates the perfect combination for readily buying into a premise as far-fetched as competitive filing.
But, All Sorts understands that humor can only get one so far. To that end, Diego and June are very relatable and interesting, with excellent arcs. Yes, they are the only two who change throughout, but in a world this offbeat, that isn’t much of an issue, really.
Vargas portrays the frustrations and then ingenuity of Diego wonderfully. His wry delivery shows an innate understanding of the material. Park is charming and brings a certain groundedness that is necessary to help the few dramatic elements hit properly.
All Sorts is charming, peculiar, and very, very funny. The cast is great, especially the two leads, and the writing keeps a nice balance between absurd and dramatic. While the film is a bit slow to start, once it gets going, it never lets up.
"…so quirky and strange that it is always funny."