KICKING SAND IN YOUR FACE Image

Clearly inspired by those Charles Atlas bodybuilding advertisements that used to appear in 1960s comic books, this short film tells the story of a loser whose plan to get in shape backfires. Charles (Cam McHarg) is on a first date with Helen (Merrill Davis). Things are going swimmingly well until Charles has some tea spilled on him, has his car towed, and gets his a*s kicked by a random thug on the street. The thug makes Charles insult Helen while breaking our poor hero’s fingers. Helen, who was just about ready to start naming the grandchildren that she and Charles might someday have, freaks out and runs off. A video of the smack-down shows up on YouTube, further humiliating Charles.

As Popeye says, this man has had all he can stands and he cants stands it no more, so Charles makes like his namesake, Mr. Atlas, and hits the gym.

The film has a twist ending that I saw coming from about halfway through the running time, but it is nonetheless an entertaining nine minutes, and is produced and performed with competence. McHarg wrote and directed the film, and co-produced with Davis, but his choice to assemble a team of pros to shoot and edit the film paid off – McHarg’s directoral debut does not feel in any way like an amateur production.

Except for one thing….

Young film-makers take note: I had to put the screener DVD into three different players before I found one that would play it. The disc had more or less been relegated to the reject pile, but I gave it another shot a month after first trying it. If you are going to send out home-burned DVD-Rs for review, make sure they play properly. Test them in several players to better ensure compatibility. Most people wouldn’t give your disc two chances, let alone three.

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