By Jeremy Knox | November 23, 2005

My favorite shorts are the ones who are wholly self-contained; yet at the same time give you a sense of a larger story looming in the background. Too often they either have all the depth of a car commercial or are so filled with clutter as they try to be “art” that it’s like watching a music video without anyone singing. Closing Time finds that perfect harmony between time constraints and being a satisfying and complete film.

Director Chris Brandt has an excellent knack for comedy as he shows us what the grim late night hours of a fast food joint are like. A guy walks in wearing a tiger costume and waving a gun, demanding the cash. One of the customers looks at him and goes “Paul…? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”. You’d think that was the punch line, but Brandt knows how to tell a joke. He takes his time and sets up his gag just right, not rushing things and ruining the whole bit.

Another neat thing is that a movie like this destroys the concept that you need a long complicated story to have complex (or complex-ish) characters. Wes Armstrong and Rick Kunkler’s roles won’t be mistaken for anything out of Hamlet, but even with less than two minutes of total screen time they still give us the impression that their characters are living beings with a past. It may not look it, but that takes talent.

Like a quick kiss in the dark from a pretty girl, Closing Time leaves you with a goofy grin on your face. I can dig that.

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