By Paul Parcellin | January 10, 2009

Who doesn’t like a good face-kicking movie? Fans of the genre can rest assured that this short is the triumph of boot-between-the-eyes contact they all crave.

Jason, (Matt Ryan), an office clerk in need of a social life, makes up tall tales in hopes of impressing, or maybe just silencing, his yammering MySpace buddies. One of his whoppers is that he kicked actor Luis Guzman (“Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia”) in the face to defend a girlfriend’s honor. His self-involved pseudo friends gobble up his clumsy lies and suddenly stop ignoring him. When word of the face-kicking incident spreads among the many gullible MySpace surfers, Jason becomes a minor celebrity. Needless to say, Jason’s mythical exploits bring a backlash when Guzman gets wind of the story. In an unexpected and effective twist, Guzman is drawn deeper into the fabricated story.

Ryan is exceptional as Jason, the slightly spaced-out 20-something, who is as alienated from his middle-aged boss as he is from his annoying peers. Detached and slightly shell-shocked from life’s thudding monotony, Jason finally reveals himself in one impulsive moment when he comes face-to-face with his nemesis, Guzman. The film works in large part due to director Sherwin Shilati knack for tight-lipped, acerbic comedy, and Adam Henricks’s script, which catches the mood and nuances of the tragically hip.

In “Luis Guzman,” we’re reminded that technology has finally put Andy Warhol’s promised 15 minutes of fame well within reach of any bland, socially inept file clerk. Unfortunately, the price of fame, as well as that of retribution, comes much higher than either Jason or Guzman might have guessed.

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