By Merle Bertrand | January 1, 2003

Coffee and soda don’t keep us awake at night because of the caffeine. That’s all a buncha hooey dreamt up by the same conspiracy wackos out there who came up with all that “Fluoride in the water” crap. It just plain sounds better to blame our self-induced insomnia on a drug — even a drug as innocuous as caffeine — than on what the real reason is that these drinks keep us awake. Which is this: Coffee and soda keep us awake, not because of the caffeine, but because they make us keep having to get up and go to the bathroom.
Hey, don’t take my word for it. Take eight year-old Wesley Clark’s (Timmy Fitzpatrick). He’s the genius, after all, who sucked down four bottles of lemonade while watching the “Monster Madness Movie Marathon” on TV. Now it’s 3:38 in the morning, there’s a monster thunderstorm brewing outside, Wesley has to pee…and the toilet is WAAAYYY down at the far end of a long creepy hallway.
Such is the simple, yet highly effective set-up for director Ari Eisner’s imaginative and endearing short film “Quest for the Holy Porcelain.” This film brings to life every child’s monster-under-the-bed nightmare in a gleefully creepy way. From an evil movie poster clown come to life to a collection of stuffed animals with glowing eyes, Wesley’s entire bedroom springs to spooky life in a none-too-subtle homage to the little boy’s kidnapping scene in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Here, the entire hallway leading to the almighty porcelain throne becomes a sort of horror movie obstacle course; a Lion’s Club haunted house hopped up on steroids.
“Quest for the Holy Porcelain” is a weirdly charming short film. Powered by young mister Fitzpatrick, who’s terrific as Wesley, this is one of those rare films that tries to see the world through a kid’s eyes…and actually succeeds.
More tongue-in-cheek than heart in your throat, “Quest for the Holy Porcelain” will nonetheless tap into a viewer’s primordial fears about those monsters under the bed, no matter how worldly and suave that viewer happens to be. And when, after seeing the film, the viewer hauls him or herself off to bed, don’t be surprised if he or she has trouble falling asleep…with or without the caffeine.

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