With a title that immediately grabbed my attention for fairly obvious reasons, Shut Up Anthony was a film I leapt at the chance to review. After 20 minutes I turned it off and took a nap. It’s one of those indie movies, you know? A bit of a chore to sit through, but with determination to watch enough so I could turn in a review, I persevered. It did get quite a bit better, I’ll admit, but this flick rarely held my interest. I will say this though; it’s a (mostly) competently made film, and I’m sure it’d appeal to some kind of an audience out there, but for me the main character was way too unlikable in all the worst kinds of ways, and the camera work was so shaky and amateur that it literally gave me motion sickness. It looked and felt like a student film at times, but an exceptionally well made one for what it’s worth.
“The drama comes too late, and the comedy is too sparse for me to give it a recommendation.”
Written and directed by Kyle Eaton, the story follows the character of Anthony (played by Robert A. D’Esposito), your quintessential 30-something year old fuck up. After screwing things up with his girlfriend and losing his job, he packs his things and heads to his family’s vacation house timeshare for some self-reflection. Following a scheduling conflict, he comes face to face with Tim (played by Jon Titterington), an old childhood friend whose family co-owns the timeshare. There’s a very awkward amount of tension between the two lead characters right from the very start, and the film explores it later on, but by that time I’m just not invested enough to care. The two clash in ideologies and attitude; Tim is a fairly calm and laid back alcoholic who works as a theology professor at a Christian school, and Anthony is an uptight mess of nerves who has no patience with the notion of religion. Here’s the thing, I like Tim, he seems like a swell guy I could see myself hanging out with, but Anthony? Holy shit, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more annoying character. When the two interact they talk over each other, which really gets tedious quickly. It would have been better if the audience was given brief glimpses of what their relationship used to be like when they were younger, where the awkwardness momentarily subsides and we see a yearning for their friendship to reignite, but instead a majority of the film’s running time makes them seem like unspoken adversaries. Actress Katie Michels, who plays Anthony’s estranged girlfriend Sam, is fantastic! She’s so charming and believable in her role, every time she was on screen I perked up. It’s a shame her role is so minor; I would have loved to see more of her.
“There are some positives that shine through and I’d definitely be interested in seeing what filmmaker Kyle Eaton comes out with next.”
Tim and Anthony have a big fight and Anthony goes back to the timeshare, takes shrooms, drinks a shit ton, and vandalizes some of Tim’s sentimental family property. Tim takes it pretty well, because Tim is a decent guy despite his own personal struggles with infidelity, but Anthony is abhorrent. I didn’t just want Anthony to shut up, I wanted him to die in a fire, and after he is reduced to a pile of smoldering ashes I wanted him to be shat on by a giant grizzly bear who feasted on a dumpster full of rancid Taco Bell food products. Words cannot properly convey how much I hated this character, and that’s my biggest gripe with the film. Maybe it’s intentional? It’d make sense given the film’s title, but there has to be something charming and likable there in order for an audience to relate with the character. I don’t think I can blame Robert A. D’Esposito, I feel like it’s more of an issue with the directing and the script. Jon Titterington does a great job with the Tim character aside from one misstep in the story that almost ruins all the good will he’s garnered, but again that’s a problem with the narrative, not the actor. The incident I’m referring to kind of borders on spoiler territory, but it comes late in the film and it involves a conversation he has with Sam. I really wish Tim and Anthony didn’t talk over each other so much, I know it’s kind of a realistic quirk some people have, but it doesn’t work in film. It makes it feel like the characters are improvising their lines.
Shut Up Anthony isn’t a calamity, it’s just one of those movies with an interesting premise that’s squandered by an unlikable main character and a slow pace. The drama comes too late, and the comedy is too sparse for me to give it a recommendation. I think everyone involved with this film has a lot of potential, especially Katie Michels, but there’s much to learn from this films noticeable flaws. As previously stated, another issue the film has is the cinematography. It’s unforgivably terrible. Oddly enough some of the shots later in the film and still and steady, but the rest of the movie looks like it was shot during an earthquake. The concept of two people that had a falling out years ago coming back together and sorting out their problems has a lot of promise, but I feel like this film really dropped the ball with it; still, there are some positives that shine through and I’d definitely be interested in seeing what filmmaker Kyle Eaton comes out with next.
Shut Up Anthony (2017) Written and Directed by: Kyle Eaton. Starring: Robert A. D’Esposito, Katie Michels, Jon Titterington.
6 out of 10