In this hilarious send-up of the world of ad agencies, production companies, commercial directors, agents, casting directors and actors, filmmakers Martin and Priest save the most pointed barbs for themselves. In yet another example of art imitating life, they who play casting directors called The Monkey Brothers, the name of their own real-life casting company that was used to cast this film’s 145+ roles. A special stand-out is actor Abdoulaye N’gom who plays a passionate and weirdly semi-comprehensible professor, but also notable are the liberal sprinkling of TV actors (Bodhi Elfman, Danny Masterson, Holly Fields, Danica McKellar among them), two real-life commercial directors (Kinka Usher and Marc Chiat) and the 1998 Playboy Playmate of the Year. All of them acquit themselves well and clearly relish the chance to bite the hand that feeds them.
Martin and Priest do a spot-on job of relentlessly mocking the vacuous drivel that’s delivered with such seriousness by real-life practitioners in commercial production. When one of the ad agency execs talks about looking for actors who are “real, like the cast of “Friends”,” that’s something Priest and Martin were told in a real casting session. ‘Nuff said: it helps to have had some contact with the commercial production industry to find “Hip, Edgy, Sexy, Cool” painfully funny – but not necessary.
The storyline is simple. The Monkey Brothers get the chance to cast a commercial for Salsa Gusto, a tortilla chip dip, which will be directed by the terminally hip, video-game junky Elan (played by Marc Chiat). This is a coup for the up-and-coming Monkey Brothers, who have scored this casting job over their rivals, the Donkey Dudes. The Monkey Brothers have a rather unusual method of casting commercials (which I won’t give away here), and the film follows their travails to cast the commercial and please everyone with their “hip, edgy, sexy, cool” choices. In the time it takes to get there, they mock vocational colleges, local cable commercials featuring mariachis, every variety of bad actor possible, and runaway production in Canada. All in all, it’s more educational about the real workings of a commercial production that anything you’ll get at the DeVry Institute.
Insider jokes abound (in the “cattle-call casting scene,” pay attention to what the actors are wearing) and what will be especially priceless for the cognescenti is the antics of two big-time commercial directors (Usher and Chiat) who obviously aren’t worried about scoring their next gig helming “short films.”
Shot in Super16mm to get that special “mockumentary” feel, “Hip, Edgy, Sexy, Cool” is currently making the festival rounds in a video version, and has won Audience Award for Best Feature at NoDance Festival in Park City.