By Don R. Lewis | March 8, 2008

“Goliath” the cat is missing. Not only that, but the cat’s owner (an unnamed character played by “Goliath” writer director David Zellner) is having some sort of midlife crisis by way of meltdown by way of nervous breakdown. His personal life is in shambles, his ex wife wants nothing to do with him, his job sucks, his new neighbor is a creepy social pariah and he can’t figure out how to smoke in his house without being caught by, well, no one. Yet through the entire shitstorm his life has become, our main man keeps all his rage pent up inside, only letting it slip when no one can see or hear and a slow burn is ignited that carries the latest Zellner Brothers film to it’s conclusion. Yes, it’s “those” Zellner Brothers. Masters of the wacky short film and purveyors of the truly, cinematically odd. And “Goliath” is odd to say the least.

Now, I happen to really love the Zellners’ films and although I don’t always get the humor, I find humor in the fact they they’re probably just off camera rolling around and holding their stomachs in hysterics. They get it and they bring it to you hook, line and sinker. Yet I will admit, the silliness on display here is probably going to fly straight over the heads of several people, but that’s what I like so much about “Goliath.” It’s totally self-assured in it’s idea of comedy and doesn’t back down for a second. Think of the film as a digital video version of the comedy of Andy Kaufman or Sasha Baron Cohen. Even when it seems like the angle taken or joke being laid out has totally tanked or been played out, the Zellners stick with it and don’t back down. I can think of at least three hysterical scenes in “Goliath” that just keep on going long after conventional wisdom would dictate the joke is played out and that is truly funny.

“Goliath” has some funny cameos from filmmaker/actor Andrew Bujalski and Austin celeb Wiley Wiggins as co-workers of the unnamed man and taller brother Nathan Zellner brings his goofy comedic presence to the film at just the right time. Yet this is David Zellner’s show as he wrote, directed and stars in the film and he’s in every scene. Sporting a sweet pedophile moustache (or a substitute teacher ‘stache for the more politically correct out there) David Zellner manages to alienate and somehow endear himself to you and all the while managing to make you laugh. He’ll also make you cringe as his ire raises throughout the film reaching a crescendo sort of like the Adam Sandler character in “Punch Drunk Love.” As I said, “Goliath” isn’t for everyone but if you want to laugh and see something completely different in a comedy, you can do no better than a Zellner Brothers film and “Goliath” fits the bill.

The plot of the film is secondary, however, to the comical moments sprinkled throughout. Finding humor in the trimming of a moustache, the signing of divorce papers, and the inane lunchroom banter of coworkers, brothers David and Nathan Zellner show they are as perceptive as they are funny. With three prior shorts at the Festival, they return with a feature that is simultaneously deadpan, stark, strange, realistic, and amusing. Goliath further establishes their comedic talent and distinctive vision.

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