By Doug Brunell | October 10, 2002

Okay, this fits the typical guy tries to get the unobtainable girl story, but the characters and their situations make “Gym Short” seem like a breath of fresh air in a genre polluted with dangerous mold.
Jim (Charlie Alden) is Charlie the Rapist. He’s not really a rapist; he just dons a protective suit and gets attacked by the women in a self-defense class at his gym. One woman in particular, Vicki (Carolyn Goltra), gets his attention. He’d love to meet her, but the rules state that the women can’t know anything about the man under the bulky suit. (This sounds sort of like where Fox got the idea for the “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” show.) Jim devises a plan that lets him meet his dream girl in what seems like a chance way. Revealing the outcome would only spoil the movie, but anyone who has watched over thirty minutes of film or television knows where this is going. It’s the characters we meet along the way that keeps us watching.
Jim is a lovable loon. Vicki is a woman of mystery. She is strikingly beautiful, yet chews tobacco. Her friend Steve (Tommy Dewey) is a New Age meditation master who has some great lines and always comes across as a calm river about to explode into a white water beast at the drop of a hat. It’s these people, and not the story, that keeps the short film flowing.
If directors and writers are going to make cliched films, the least they can do is populate their world with interesting, original characters to help flesh out the twice-told tales. In that sense, “Gym Short” teaches a valuable lesson. Now it’s up to others to follow suit.

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