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By Mark Bell | August 1, 2007

We’re down to the final few episodes, with only five filmmakers remaining for this week’s shorts. Who’ll be the top dogs, and who’ll get the cut? Read on…

The Elimination…
Last week I predicted that Andrew, Adam and Sam were the lackluster three going into an elimination that was supposed take out two of the crew, but actually wound up being a single elimination. So who took the short bus home to loser-ville? It turned out puking-Alien-loving Andrew. You’re lucky, Sam. Mediocrity slips by.

The Judges…
Somebody say “Seabiscuit”? No? Maybe guest judge and director of “Seabiscuit,” Gary Ross, brought it up. No? “Seabiscuit.” Oh, and Garry Marshall apparently morphed into Penny Marshall, and now it’s a competition between Carrie and Penny to see who can mumble out the corner of their mouth the best.

The Shorts…
Five filmmakers left, five shorts all in the theme of… racing? I don’t know, it’s called Road Week and the clips had cars so it must be all about cars. Yay, short films about cars and the road. Oh, and the top vote-getter, Jason, gets to have Jerry O’Connell in his short (that’s considered a reward!?!). Anyway, bring it on, On the Lot’ers, because this time next week we’ll be down to FOUR.

“Driving Under the Influence” Directed by Adam Stein
A car stereo that makes people dance? Definitely a unique idea, though at first it seemed less like dancing and more like involuntary spasms. Oh, and I think I saw my neighbor Lou in the short too (he’s an actor, very possible). A pass-able overall effort, but nothing amazing.

“Backseat Driving Test” Directed by Sam Friedlander
Sorry, Sam, now that Kenny’s gone and Andrew took the bullet for you this week, the critical aim is all at your head. Lucky for you, the short wasn’t bad. The idea was quite innovative. I’d have preferred more of the guy trying to break the mother of the backseat driving impulses, but overall solid. Nice payoff on the ramp too.

“Bonus Feature Two” Directed by Zach Lipovsky
Sequel to one of your own shorts!?! Zach, you dumb f**k! You had this competition in the bag, and then you do this. Ugh, man. Well, the impulse to ride your own coat-tails with a sequel is pretty mainstream Hollywood, so you may still be the best director for this competition, but… you let me down. Hardcore. The main problem is that the key plot points were explained in the last short, so all this winds up being is a pirate short and anyone who hasn’t seen last week’s… you took too much for granted, you assumed your audience knew the story and… who cares, I’m the only one still watching this show, aren’t I?

“The Move” Directed by Jason Epperson
I don’t know if I dug the entire joke, but the short did keep me guessing for the majority of its duration. Pranking your friends can apparently never go too far. Unfortunately, this is a slight mis-step for Jason (and his shorts had been getting stronger and stronger), but I still liked it and at least it wasn’t a sequel. Oh, and negative points to Penny Marshall for talking all Asian stereotypes and ignorant when reviewing the short. She cut off Gary Ross’ brilliant words of advice for that?

“Road Rage 101” Directed by Will Bigham
Be cool to your car, otherwise it may turn on you. Not quite “Christine,” and I would’ve preferred more car kicking a*s, because the short was solid and funny right up until the car fought back. The strength of this short was the lead actor, if he’d been weak then the entire thing would’ve been awful. Solid effort.

Final Thoughts…
I’ll say it, and I never thought I would: Zach, you should be going home with this week’s effort. This may be the chance that every other filmmaker in the competition was praying for, an opportunity for the competition to lose the guy who was the obvious frontrunner for so many weeks. Zach is still one of the best filmmakers in the competition, one of the better filmmakers I’ve seen period, and he may squeak by on the strength of his previous efforts, but in all fairness to the other filmmakers this week, Zach’s was the weakest.

Next week’s shorts are based on the winner of the America’s Logline Challenge and that is awesome, except that the logline is ridiculous: a man wakes up in a dress, can’t remember anything that happened the night before. In other words, America wants to see short versions of “Dude, Where’s My Car?” And I thought they were going to make the final three shorts ace efforts, make this entire gibberish worth it. We’ll see. Knowing Will, his short will have the dress come to life or something…

– Mark Bell, Editor-on-the-Road

Got your own opinion about this week’s screening episode? Are you one of the filmmakers? Join in the conversation at the Official “On the Lot” Discussion Thread.

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