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By Mark Bell | August 26, 2014

The sport of hunting has always confounded me a little. Years ago, when food was much more costly, hunting served as an inexpensive way to fill the larder with meat. Bag one or two deer and you were set for the year. Plus it was an outing and a way to relax in a time when outings were few and far between and much of your life was occupied by endless, back-breaking work.

These days, however, I can think of better ways to spend your time than walking through the woods in ball shriveling frigid temperatures and blowing the piss out of the fauna.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any strong moral opposition to hunting. In the grand scheme of things there isn’t much dignity for a deer to end up wandering around the forest half crippled by the aches and pains of old age. So dying by a bullet to the heart, a method of killing which is arguably quicker and more painless than a wolf pack mauling, is a kindness rarely afforded to prey animals in the wild. At the same time, you have to be a little strange in the head to be a hunter. It’s an anachronism masquerading under the guise of a sport. Might as well be a jousting enthusiast as a hunter.

Which leads me, in a tortuous roundabout way, to today’s movie.

If you’ve been reading my latest reviews you’ll see that this is the fourth Colin Bannon short I’ve written about in the last month or so. He’s proved himself a strong filmmaker, and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Up until now I’ve watched the man try his hand at the documentary, found footage, and drama genres. They were all very low budget student films, but they all showcased a good bit of cleverness and talent. With this new one he has a higher budget than before, and it’s a comedy. So it’ll be interesting to see what he does with it.

The Mighty Ten Point Bucks Club is about the members of the titular club accidentally shooting a hapless hiker. Then, after nursing him back to health, letting him join their rather odd and surreal group, where they seem to spend more time being weird than hunting. If you know any real hunters, this is rather accurate.

It’s an enjoyable little piece, and I can’t say I disliked it, but it’s a bit slow and it has a wonky tone. At times it’s too goofy to be a satire, and then becomes too serious to be an over-the-top roast to hunting and hunters. In a weird way, filmmakers who have a half decent budget for the first time are like teenage girls trying out makeup or jewelry for the first time. Faced with too many choices they excitedly try on everything at once and it looks wrong. I think this is what happened here. Bannon didn’t want to make a comedy, he wanted to make all the comedies, and despite his best intentions it didn’t quite work out.

The first thing that jumped out at me is that the music doesn’t work. It’s trying to lead the jokes in a kind of Looney Tunes way, and I’m not feeling it. I love the old school 1930s/1940s serial brand of comedy as much as the next guy, but I feel it yields limited success when filmmakers try to emulate the style. In the right frame of mind it can be a lot of fun, but the days of the Three Stooges are sadly over. Much like the sport of hunting itself, it’s an anachronism that doesn’t quite need to be reinvented or revisited.

However, the acting is quite good. Jennifer Roe, who was excellent in Exhibit A is likewise a pleasure here, as is the rest of the cast. They’re all likeable and fun to watch.

The editing does a lot to save it. I originally watched a longer cut of this film and that one didn’t work at all. It was padded and had a weird, serious scene acting as a setup for a punchline. However, with the new editing it’s much, much tighter. I still think the jokes don’t quite work, but scenes that seemed to drag in the original are now much more pleasing this time around, and I found myself smiling and chuckling often. It’s still not “funny” funny, but it’s humorous. Comedy lives or dies by it’s timing and while the original cut had terrible timing, this new one is far better. It doesn’t quite perk, but it pops… if that makes any sense.

Lastly, freed from uber low budget confines, Bannon shows that he has a good eye for cinematography, and the film certainly looks great. So, while arguably the least of the four Bannon films I’ve seen, it’s good for at least one viewing, if only to compare it to his other work.

The man has talent. He’s done good before, he’ll do good again. This wasn’t quite good, but everyone’s allowed to stumble every now and then. You can’t learn if you don’t try, and you’re not trying if you don’t screw up. I think he’s got at least one really great movie in him, and I look forward to the day he makes it.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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