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By Timothy Brayton | July 2, 2007

Whatever plot pops into your mind when you hear the title “The Kegger,” that is not the plot that the movie turns out to possess. This is probably a good thing, given that all of the obvious storylines that you might want to title “The Kegger” are pretty much awful.

The film opens with Richard and Eric on the night that they have both been unceremoniously dumped; they are headed to a frat party in the hopes of finding some women to score with, despite hating frats, frat parties, and perhaps even “scoring” itself, in Eric’s case.

For about four minutes, it’s spellbinding: just two guys walking in the dark, having a conversation. The dialogue is flawlessly natural and delivered by Robert Lambert and Ben Fuller without any hint of affectation, and the composition and lighting are slightly expressionistic without being pushy about it; and yet, it’s called “The Kegger.” Surely “expressionistic” and “The Kegger” are not mean to refer to the same movie!

Then they actually get to the party, and the film changes a bit, for the worse, but only a little bit. As it turns out, the rest of the cast is not up to the hefty responsibility of reciting dialogue, and the dialogue itself rather abruptly becomes a knockoff of the works of Kevin Smith. After that remarkable opening, it almost feels like a different creative team was responsible for the second act: for now the visuals are considerably worse, with ugly lens flares appearing too often and terribly imbalanced colors; the directing is lifeless, giving us an idea that this is quite possibly the worst party ever (of course it can be hard to find extras, but there are ways of framing six people to look like sixty. Here, six people look like three). But it’s still got traces of the fine dialogue, and the fine lighting, and the traces are enough to keep it interesting.

And then the third act begins, and it’s quite a jaw-dropping, pointless, left-field twist of an act change, at that. I’d like to say that it’s “inane,” but that doesn’t quite cover the batshit craziness of it. At this point, we’re in territory so far removed from that brilliant opening scene that one must ask why the director didn’t just make two different films.

What to think of a film like this, that moves from sublimity to insipidity so quickly? The good parts are so good, and the bad parts are so stupid, as to make any pat judgment completely unreasonable. Phil Haney is apparently adapting the story into a feature, which might actually help – giving everything more space to breathe could help the story find its footing, so that the last twist doesn’t give us so much whiplash. As it stands, this is much to schizophrenic to be at all enjoyable.

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