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By Merle Bertrand | July 27, 2000

“Vanilla Guerrilla” comes from the “Our Gang” school of filmmaking, since it appears as if director Andrew McCallister rounded up all of his (very young) friends and persuaded them to appear in this pudgy martial arts parody. “Come on, Spanky! I’ve got the camera. You bring the lights. Let’s make a movie!” Nothing wrong with that, as long as the resulting movie is any good, which, alas, this one isn’t.
Dylan Cooper is Vanilla. A loping, dim-witted vigilante — and that’s during his fight scenes — with the laid back air of someone who’s listened to Donovan’s groovy “Mellow Yellow” one time too many, Vanilla joins forces with sexy blond bad-a*s Dusty (Anna Kasas) on a dangerous rescue mission. Cute and hapless damsel in distress Peggy Masterson (Stefanie Hughes), the daughter of a wealthy business tycoon who’s supposedly the owner of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, for some unexplained reason, has been kidnapped by the evil villain Magneto (Thomas Jeffers). It’s up to Vanilla and Dusty to rescue the young heiress, all the while avoiding the bumbling meddlings of detective John Dekenshief (Eric Rea); a name so bizarre, one can only assume it’s an inside joke.
Granted, there’s not a whole lot of time for an in-depth plot in a thirteen minute film, but this is about as basic as they come. It’s really just an excuse for a few fight scenes and some sophomoric humor. Unfortunately, no one involved has the martial artistry know-how, blocking knowledge, or photographic skills to make these sluggish scenes look even remotely believable. Throw in some comedy that just isn’t funny and “Vanilla Guerrilla” has a laundry list of problems.
Still, take heart, Mr. McCallister. Everyone has to start somewhere. Your film got done and you had the guts to send it in. If you’re as young as I’m guessing you are, the best part about “Vanilla Guerrilla” will be what you learn from it.

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