SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! I’ve loved parody for as long as I can remember, mainly because of the great musician/actor Weird Al Yankovic. His 1989 film UHF is full of everything I dig about him: strange, absurd humor and pop culture references galore. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is similar in tone with its zaniness and references, so of course, I was into it as well.
Love Dump, directed by Jason Avezzano and Matt Mahaffey, and written by Leila Gorstein and Jesse Kendall, is a Hallmark parody that is in the same vein as the aforementioned comedies (minus the pop culture references, save for a joke about Bruce Willis flicks and the whole Hallmark skewering concept). This is on a much lower budget than the previously mentioned Weird Al movies and is only fifty minutes long, but the over-the-top tone is similar. The humor is also a bit raunchier, as you could probably expect with such a title.
Love Dump starts off with an odd chance encounter at a park between Jessica Dump (Leila Gorstein) and Todd Barkley (Jesse Kendall). Todd loses control of the dog he’s walking and falls right in front of Jessica, causing mustard from her hotdog to splatter all over her face while bloodying his knee. It’s love at first sight as she fixes his knee and pants to be just like new, but nothing comes of it at that time.
“…a strong gust of wind blows away the piece of paper with her phone number…”
We see a title screen that says, “fifteen years later,” as Todd wakes up (looking exactly the same) to getting dumped by his girlfriend LeAnna (Lauren Summers). Then we see Jessica at a store she runs called Love Dump, where people bring in their trash for her to sell. “One person’s garbage is another person’s treasure,” she tells Chester (Rob Grabowski), who puts a semen-covered banana in her face and makes a joke about her rack while she cracks up.
That’s when Todd fatefully walks in, and it’s amore all over again when he and Jessica lock eyes. That is until a strong gust of wind blows away the piece of paper with her phone number on it. Hilariously, you can clearly see the string attached as it spins through a tire and lands on ice cream. Then a dog eats it, all while Todd contorts his face in funny ways before being drenched in water splashed from a car on the curb. The lovebirds lose contact yet again, this time for only forty weeks before the romance starts anew.
Love Dump lampoons the absurdity of the Hallmark movies, which are ripe for parody with their penchant for being overly sentimental. The jokes and gags are hit-and-miss, but the real strength is the performances of the two leads, Leila Gorstein and Jesse Kendall. Gorstein almost always has a smile on her face (except for the scenes where her character is supposed to be upset) while she enthusiastically delivers wacky lines. Kendall reminds me of Daniel Radcliffe in Weird in both looks and the way he plays it — mostly straight with a wink and a nod acting style.
Parody is not for everyone, but for those who enjoy that form of comedy, they will be pleasantly surprised by this little flick. There are a couple of Bollywood-style choreographed mini-dance numbers, which added to the fun and craziness of it all. Trying to get laughs is difficult, and some may see Love Dump as trash, but I find it to be a little nugget of comedy gold.
Love Dump screened at the 2023 Slamdance Film Festival.
"…some may see this as trash, but I find it to be a little nugget of comedy gold."