The strange little film “Sunshinola” is like Fight Club by way of the Coens’s lesser-known younger brothers… tripping on acid. And for those of us, I mean you who might find that kind of thing intriguing, I assure you, Joel and Ethan have nothing to fear. But we might. “Sunshinola” starts off promisingly enough with a nifty title sequence, but then quickly devolves into weird for weird’s sake. Either I just didn’t “get it” as they say, or writer/director/producer Andrew Allan’s would-be oddity just didn’t have much to “get”. I prefer the latter theory myself.
Set in a hotel somewhere in Florida, “Sunshinola” involves an epic showdown between the wheelchair-bound, self-proclaimed Sunshine King, Delancey P. Roostacraw and the national organization devoted to a life of self-mutilation for the sake of personal freedom known as… B.E.A.F. (Black Eyes of America Faction). Like I said, bizarre premise, which is okay, it’s just not a terribly interesting or funny one. Anyway, the Florida citrus tycoon and his perpetually sunny state represent everything B.E.A.F. hates: stereotypical beauty, false sense of security, and a too rosy outlook on life in general. But most of all, the group hates Roostacraw’s oranges since the Vitamin C counteracts their prized shiners, which symbolize their “unity in the face of adversity”. Roostacraw, however, has his own agenda: crash B.E.A.F.’s first national convention and hawk his famed oranges, a “taste that will make your tallywacker tingle”. Meanwhile, stuck in the middle of this mess is heavyweight boxing champion Bowzer Bizner and his manager Flossy Potts. When the ensuing ruckus interrupts Bowzer’s dishing out of free black eyes to the faithful, Flossy demands contract renegotiation and I’m demanding my time back.
After two viewings, one for the experience and one for the review, I’ve concluded that “Sunshinola” is not a total waste of time. The high concept is tiresome, but the energy level is definitely up there. By far, the best thing about the film is Dan Meisner as Roostacraw. His dialogue and delivery are consistently hilarious. Dann Thomas Alagna as Flossy Potts also has his moments. Filmmaker Allan shows promise in creating memorably ridiculous characters, he just needs to work on giving them something more memorable to do. As Roostacraw says at one point, “I plan to put an end to this jackassery.” One only wishes he could have done so, at least a bit sooner. Is it as lame as say, American Wedding? Definitely not. In its 24 minutes, “Sunshinola” will at least make you laugh once.