The 3-minute short Startleplex Cinema has such an ingenious idea at its core that I am shocked it hasn’t already been explored. Written and directed by Richard Drutman, the movie starts as a couple on a date take their seats in a movie theater. The man (Michael Ford) and the woman (Izabela Cylc) begin talking briefly before the movie starts. Then the lobby announcements (“Let’s all go to the lobby!”) start, and the man is reminded to turn off his phone. He does so, and they continue their chat.
The lobby ads continue and get progressively weirder. They warn that handjobs are not permitted on the premises and that any couple caught copulating will be removed from the theater without a refund. While they do tell the patrons to buy snacks, the pre-show warns against tossing your partner’s salad. Understandably, the couple gets a bit disturbed and confused by these PSAs of theater etiquette. What was supposed to be a nice night out is souring into uncomfortableness due to bad marketing.
“…lobby ads…warn that handjobs are not permitted on the premises and that any couple caught copulating will be removed…”
The best thing Startleplex Cinema has going for it is sheer brevity. Any longer and the back and forth reaction of the lobby ad, then the couple reacting to it would have gotten stale. But at less than 5-minutes long, the joke is perfectly set up and delivered before that ever happens. The thing that really makes the jokes land, aside from the perfect comedic timing of its leads, are the animated, anthropomorphic popcorn bucket, snack box, and cup doing these dirty deeds. It is a side-splitting sight gag.
Ford and Cylc have a sweet, gentle chemistry together, and it is easy to see them as a new but happy couple. The way their faces turn from confusion to disgust to being upset is hilarious. The manner in which the two of them handle their last few lines of the film is delightful.
Startleplex Cinema has an original idea and gets right to the point as soon as possible. Michael Ford and Izabela Cylc are ideally matched and have great comedic sensibilities. Writer-director Richard Drutman knows precisely how to get the biggest laughs from any part of the lobby advert. More importantly, he also knows that stretching this story out any further would have made it grow tiresome. As is, it is a hysterical and ridiculous short film that will leave with a smile on your face.
"…has such an ingenious idea at its core that I am shocked it hasn't already been explored."