“Speed for Thespians” takes one not-very-funny idea (a trio of ham actors staging Chekhov’s short story “The Bear” on a series of New York City buses) and stretches it into the most grueling half-hour imaginable. Inevitably pissing off a series of humorless bus drivers and either annoying or confusing dozens of bus passengers, the actors take the less-than-comfortable world of New York’s municipal transit system and turn it into an irritating trial with their nauseating antics.
Jamie Harris, Camilla Enders and Denis Holmes are the silly-a*s actors at the heart of the concept. Unfortunately for the passengers on the buses and the audience watching the film, the acting is way too broad for any possible comfort (especially the spouting of the peroxide blonde Harris, who seems to have studied his craft with a cocktail of Richard Burton performances from the Liz years followed by a chaser of Snagglepuss cartoons). Filmmaker Kalman Apple served up this tiresome worm, which somehow snagged an Academy Award nomination as Best Live Action Short Film. If the Academy voters genuinely believe this was among the year’s finest short films, then perhaps it is time to retire that category.