Most critics will tell you that reviewing a movie consists of three separate actions:
1) Determining what the movie is trying to do.
2) Determining whether or not the movie actually pulled it off.
3) Conveying this information to you, the reader of the review.
We’ll come back to this list in just moment.
“Pure Milk Genius Volume 1” consists of two short films – “Curse of the Highway,” and “Time Thief.” Both of these movies run for about twenty minutes, and are part of a series of movies designed to be so bad, they’re good.
On the surface, this seems like an almost critic-proof plan for filmmaking. Bad acting? On purpose. Bad writing? On purpose. Inaudible sound? On purpose.
So what do you rate, then? How do you determine when a mistake is actually a mistake? How do you determine where a film is actually bad, as opposed to just “acting” bad?
The folks at PMG seem to think they’re making comedies – and I guess we’ll just have to trust them.
“Curse of the Highway” **
Friends go up to a cabin in the woods, read from an evil book they know they shouldn’t be reading, and then one by one are attacked, mauled, or otherwise victimized by the Soggy Bogg Monster.
In other words, plot-wise, this is basically a twenty-minute version of Evil Dead.
To determine whether or not you’d think this film is amusing, picture this: The monster is some guy wearing a hooded sweatshirt, with a stuffed animal squid crammed up into the hood to cover his face.
To determine whether you’d find the dialogue amusing, consider what I think is their best joke. One of the characters shows a couple of other characters a book. “I think it’s written in Sanskrit!” he declares.
“Let me see that,” says his buddy. “I took intro to Sanskrit last semester.”
The primary problem with “Curse of the Highway” is that it fails to resemble an actual parody or satire. Yes, they’re staying at the old Raimi cabin, and yeah, creepy-dude-in-the-woods looks a bit like creepy-dude-from-Friday-the-13th, but mostly the movie resembles a few friends who had a cabin and decided to shoot a movie.
Funny-wise, it works in fits and starts, but it’s overlong (opening credits shouldn’t run multiple minutes in a short film) and not nearly as entertaining as it needs to be.
“Time Thief” ***
I’ll be honest. I watched this movie twice and still have no idea what’s going on. The description on Pure Milk Genius’s web site says: “Dr. Admiral Captain Brock Lawnjockey is a hero from the past (2004). The Scientists are from the future (2008). The Time Sentinels are cyborgs from the new future (2012). The Time Council are the engineers of mankind’s destiny from the super future (2016).”
That’s probably accurate, but I have no idea. Suffice to say they do a little parody and a few one-liners, and the robots are made out of cardboard and buckets.
What makes “Time Thief” a full star better than “Curse of the Highway” is that there seems to be more of an effort behind the proceedings. Yes, the sets are made of cardboard and the “computer” is actually a calculator, but those feel like deliberate choices, which makes the movie a little more entertaining.
Also, the cast and crew don’t seem to be trying quite so hard to be bad. What makes a comedy of this ilk entertaining is that no one knows they’re in a bad movie. If the folks at PMG can keep a straighter face and trim some of the unfunny fat, they may be able to elevate their future work from somewhat to consistently amusing.
Pure Milk Genius has already said it’s going to continue its reign of “so-bad-they’re-amusing” terror, and “Volume 1” contains a trailer for the forthcoming “Return to Soggy Bogg.” Perhaps the best praise I can give PMG is that I’ve been amused just enough by “Volume 1” to check out “Volume 2” – whenever it materializes.