Independent filmmaking has been on the rise and Film Threat loves it. Writers and directors have stories to tell and don’t need the big studios to guarantee success. Today, independent films are able to compete with big studio films in almost every category except one…comedies. Finding a good independent comedy is finding the proverbial “needle in the haystack.”
Writer Joe Leone and director Jonathan Zuck presents Meant to Be Broken. Your basic bad comedy with one shining star. Dave Coyne stars as Harvey, an incredibly uptight by-the-book loner, who learns that he has an inoperable brain tumor and has only short time to live.
While sitting in a lonely bar, Harvey laments his impending death to a complete stranger, Luke (Nick DePinto). Luke is free-spirited, adventurous with a secret to hide. It is here that every over told story needs a hook to separate itself from the crowded pack of comedies. While looking back at his life, Harvey realizes he lived his life following all the rules limiting his ability to live life to the fullest. Seizing the opportunity to help Harvey (and himself), Luke convinces Harvey to break as many rules and laws as he possibly can. We now have a buddy film. Two guys who are the exact opposite of one another about to embark on an adventure where they fight over their differences until they eventually find common ground and ultimately learn something about themselves. Have you ever seen this story before? I thought so.
“With death looming, Harvey realizes he lived his life following all the rules limiting his ability to live life to the fullest.”
Harvey is intrigued by the offer but is a lot OCD about breaking any kind of rule. So Luke eases him into a life of rule breaking. He starts with wearing slippers after 10 pm, then fishing with his bare hands, and on to discharging a weapon at a wedding. Apparently, all these are actual laws on the books in several states.
Breaking rules lead to breaking laws, which leads to the duo pose as FBI agents to infiltrate an investment company’s computer network. Their charade appears to work until it doesn’t. Confronted by the firm’s security, Luke and Harvey take a hostage, which leads us to the bright discovery of the film.
“…Mohebban creates an engaging and captivating character…that gives this weak story the boost it needs.”
Luke, Harvey, and their hostage make a quick exit to their getaway car. Not wanting any harm to come to their hostage, they drive a few blocks to let her out. But instead, their hostage wants to stay. Their hostage is Shuri (Nadia Mohebban), a young Muslim-woman, also known as Shifty. Tired of conforming to the norms imposed by her family, Shifty demands to be part of Luke and Harvey’s hijinks. Threatening to turn them in for kidnapping, Luke and Harvey agree to allow Shifty to join their crew.
It is here that a bad, unoriginal, buddy comedy turns into a mediocre but interesting, buddy comedy. Mohebban creates an engaging and captivating character in Shifty that gives this weak story the boost it needs. She brings the best out of Harvey in a sweet way and holds her own against Luke by not putting up with while encouraging his bullshit.
I don’t want to steer you wrong; there’s a lot wrong with the story and the comedy. Luke and Harvey are caricatures in a wacky world of their own making. Their acting is stiff, and the comedy is rarely clever. There are clever ideas with no payoff. While Harvey’s brain tumor may be a good plot point, Harvey never acts like he has a massive brain tumor. While Mohebban’s performance is fantastic, it’s not enough to get a recommendation.
Meant To Be Broken (2018) Directed by Jonathan Zuck. Written by Joe Leone, Jenna St. John, and Jonathan Zuck. Starring Dave Coyne, Nick DePinto, Nadia Mohebban. Meant To Be Broken made its World Premiere at the 2018 Dances With Films.
5 out of 10 stars