If grades were given for effort, the team behind this movie would get a solid B. And seeing how this is a low budget independent film, there is some leeway given for spotty sound and the like. You can ignore those things when there is a strong story, interesting ideas and solid acting. “Maxwell’s Frontline” fails on all those fronts, though.
The movie plays as if it were a soap opera for men, complete with all the usual trappings inherent in those stories, but told from a male’s perspective. There is lost love, unwanted pregnancies, rape and sleazy characters — all delivered with the excitement of wood. The dialogue has all the subtlety of a plane crash, and the actors lack any sort of screen presence, which is necessary in a movie that focuses on people.
Joe (Rhes Low) and Surge (Brad Haight) work the kitchen at Maxwell’s. Joe is the soft spoken sort who has two facial expressions: emotionless and deadpan. Surge, on the other hand, is the guy who never grew out of high school. Parties, pot and potent potables fuel his life. Surge is dating Brandi (Rachel Lewis, whose performance here is distractingly bad) and Joe is sort of seeing Angela (Shannon Muchow). Joe is emotionally distant, however, which drives Shannon into the arms of an actor/waiter, while Surge is so low class that Brandi no longer wants anything to do with him … until she finds out she’s pregnant with his child. Later, Surge dies and Joe is able to tell Angela he loves her. Tune in next week, right?
As stated previously, the cast and crew put quite an effort into this movie. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough, and viewers would be better off watching legitimate soap operas. At least they can be somewhat entertaining. This, however, is just plain painful.