Where does artificial fruit flavor come from? It seems like an obvious enough question, right? The answer, according to this pseudo-documentary from Todd Lampe, sounds like the bad punch line it is: Why, from artificial fruit, of course. (Insert rim-shot here.)
Logically, then, someone has to grow that artificial fruit. That someone is Holly Hockenberry (Karen Rambo), the owner of Hockenberry Farms. Yet, all is not well on the farm; its staff having been reduced to Sparky Schlosser (Alan Sues), a whiny, simpering gardener suffering from bad knees. The chief problem stems from a class-action lawsuit filed against the farm which alleges that the Fauxberry, CA-based farm sold contaminated artificial fruit to “Do Us A Flavor”; an artificial fruit flavor manufacturing plant with fairly obvious mob ties.
As director Lampe interviews a number of lawyers, victims, offenders and other principals in an effort to get to the truth, “Artificially Speaking” sets out to peel the skin away from this vast and sordid conspiracy.
Yet, for such a deliberately silly topic; one that’s ripe — sorry — with comedic possibilities, “Artificially Speaking” is a surprisingly joyless affair. It’s one thing to play it straight and make the film with a deadpan attitude. Oftentimes, that makes the film funnier. (Think that undisputed master of mockumentaries, “Spinal Tap.”) Yet, here, it’s almost as if Lampe forgot this was supposed to be a put-on. Most of his characters are drab and boring, while some border on being negatively stereotypical.
The premise of “Artificially Speaking” has all the potential of a big, red, juicy apple. Unfortunately, the resulting competent, if cheerless, film tastes like a waxen impostor.