Sometimes, when you’re watching a movie, an actor states something that seems to sum up exactly what the audience may be thinking about the film. Not in an expository sort of way, but more along the lines of “this may be the best critique of the film you’ll ever get, and it’s coming from the film.” In the case of Mark Schwab’s The Last Time I Saw Soap, that moment comes when the character of Rob (Chad Eschman) states, “We’re worse than a******s. We’re f*****g boring.”
Harsh, right? I know, but that hit on the head exactly what I was thinking as I watched this film about four friends, returning from a another friend’s funeral, who decide to have one last blow-out party/adventure in honor of the deceased. Martin (Mark Balunis) seems to have his head firmly on his shoulders, though why he hangs around with the others is the biggest question raised in the film; Blake (Robert Campbell) is a straight-up d******d, a “man” who pays an older pizza delivery guy (Kurt Gravenhorst) $300 just so he can mock him and who also thinks the answer to their sadness can be solved by prostitutes (leading to a LONG, painful third act sequence); Charlie (Anthony Larice) comes across as an idiot; and Rob is… well, he’s forgettable.
On a technical note, the film doesn’t look very good. Actually, it looks like someone shot it with an old miniDV camera. Beyond the “look,” the film also suffers from some questionable editing choices. For one, the improvisation is allowed to run far too long in certain scenes. Maybe there was no clear “cut” to be found in the scene, but letting it run until all the actors run out of steam just didn’t work for me. Additionally, every once and a while the film would utilize a tight close-up on only one character while the other actors continued speaking… and speaking. These extended “reaction” shots made me think that they just didn’t have the coverage to cut to whoever was speaking or maybe they had the coverage, but since the dialogue seems entirely improvised, maybe the option of having the dialogue they needed meant that it wasn’t going to be delivered onscreen.
So do I have anything good to say about the film? Sure, they are a few moments I enjoyed, usually when either Martin or the pizza guy were putting the other characters in their place for being such self-centered douchebags. The acting also isn’t bad, it just feels unfocused. Part of that is the dialogue improvisation, part of that is the editing.
I think The Last Time I Saw Soap could benefit from a stern hand in the editing room, and maybe there’s a solid short in there somewhere. As a feature, though, it just didn’t work for me.
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