Josh (J.D. Edmond) and his friends are the epitome of Generation X. Enjoying a questionable education at a liberal arts college and generally excelling at being eccentric, the sky is the limit. Well, at least it seemed that way.
Cut to 10 years later, and Josh is still at his web programmer gig, only now the company is losing money and Josh is the latest to be fired. Shocked by the sudden life change, and ill-prepared by his education, Josh is further damaged when he learns that the author of his favorite sci-fi book series, Vanguard Epsilon, is not only dead and unable to finish the series (after a particularly disliked volume) as Josh would like, but is also a woman. Suddenly, Josh begins hearing voices and believes that the answers to his life gone astray lie with the friends he hasn’t seen since they went their separate ways post-college.
Thus, Josh forges ahead, attempting to reunite and collect his friends Trance (Reuben Tapp), the angry young black man who has since mellowed and now goes by his real name Terrance; Laurel (Liz Mariani), Trance’s ex-girlfriend who now tours with a band as a sort of open mic poetry fusion gig; Bert (John Karyus), Laurel’s ex-husband who just so happens to have dedicated his life to unraveling the mysteries of Canada’s secret porn industry, particularly when it comes to walrus porn; and Aymee (Wendy Foster), a woman who talks and behaves like a small girl, and chalks up her troubles in life as being discrimination based on her gender. To what end, their reunion isn’t clear, Josh just knows it must be done, and the fate of the universe may hang in the balance.
Saberfrog gets good and out there by its final minutes, which is a plus and a minus. It’s a plus because it gets so goofy and strange, complete with animation that would make early South Park episodes look brilliant in comparison, that you can’t help but admire that someone came up with something that odd and then truly went for it. It’s a minus because, well, it feels like no one really knew where they were going, or what they were trying to say, with this whole “slackers suffer for their youth” premise and, instead, they just came up with something nutty and tried to connect all the strings at the last minute.
Which, unfortunately, didn’t always work for me. As hilarious as I found the diatribes on walrus porn or the ideas of a liberal arts education being a front for mind control, I often found myself as sidetracked by the plot moves as the characters were sidetracked from their potential. I guess what I’m getting at is, despite sharing more than a few traits of potential gone awry with the characters in the film, I often had trouble caring for them, or what they were up to. This may be a bunch of friends getting together for redemption of some sort, but I saw little redemption by the end.
The visual aesthetic of Saberfrog is a little rough-and-rugged, so sometimes it hurts the eyes, but overall its not too bad. Again, the film deserves credit for going for something truly out there and ambitious, whether it comes together or not. For me, it feels like the film could’ve gone through a couple more drafts in the writing stage to tighten up what it was getting at, and how it was getting there, so perhaps it didn’t all feel like such a huge left turn by the end. Sure, there are hints throughout of where it might be going, but even those could’ve undergone some polish.
Hell, maybe even one fewer friend was all that was necessary, to help the audience to focus more on the others. Because something is off, even if I still have trouble placing my finger on it. It could be because, while the reunion served some purpose, it never really came together that those particular people were important, other than because they knew each other. It’s not like each individual held an important piece of a puzzle, or had some purpose by the end. If they did, I missed it.
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