Max (Max Stubblefield) and Paul (Paul Gutrecht) are playing a mean game of “Go Fish,” completely oblivious to the gun lying on the card table…until their over wound roommate Gabe (Gabe Maxson) points it out to them in nearly hysterical terms. Gabe, you see, is well aware of Russian playwright Anton Chekov’s famous dictum “One must not put a loaded gun on-stage if no one is going to fire it.” He tries desperately to convince his skeptical roommates that they’re really characters in a drama and since that drama now includes a mysterious firearm, someone’s gonna get it. He demonstrates that even if they throw the gun out the window, it’ll just come back…which it does with the pizza delivery guy. Once he’s finally gotten Max and Paul convinced, all three either begin scheming to deflect the dramatic focus from themselves, lest they become the victim, or connive to bring in outside characters to better their own odds.
Such is the smart and highly amusing set-up to Victor Fanucchi and Matt Nix’ comedy gem “Chekov’s Gun.” It’s pretty tough, given the intelligent and jaded nature of the modern day film audience, to pull off a consciously self-aware scenario such as this one, but this film succeeds smashingly. The actors in “Chekov’s Gun,” who all play themselves, neatly and naturally tear down the fourth wall between themselves and the viewer. Nonchalant and unquestioning their extraordinary situation, they act as if they’re unwitting movie characters every day and the effect is devastatingly funny. These guys get more mileage out of a cocked eyebrow than most films get with a page of dialogue. “Chekov’s Gun” is a hoot with a brain. Not only is it a constant chuckle-fest, it’s also a smart and subtle exploration of the never-ending free will vs. predestination debate. This is just plain good stuff all around.