Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Marshall Allman, Natasha Lyonne, Vince Vieluf, Tania Raymonde, Tygh Runyan, Russell Hodgkinson, Melissa D. Brown, Richard Lefebvre, Toan Le, Agatha Nowicki, Matt Smith
Written by: David Russo
Directed by: David Russo
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 98
Date: 01/19/2009
IMDB

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (2009)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Misfortune Cookies

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

We've all seen the coming-of-age movie in which a lost twenty-something takes a new job, meets some new people and learns a little something about life (Adventureland comes to mind). But David Russo's The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle moves in an entirely unique direction. I love it, in all its sick, twisted glory.

Dory (Marshall Allman -- who looks, sounds and behaves like a younger Ethan Hawke) blows his top at work, loses his data entry job and takes a job as a night janitor to pay the bills. Like Woody Allen in Hannah and Her Sisters, he searches for solace in religion, trying out several different kinds over the course of the film. Cleaning the trash for a marketing firm, he and his new co-workers discover a cache of experimental cookies that supposedly taste oven-hot when one bites into them. At first the cookies taste awful, but they become quickly addictive, and with lots of weird side effects, including some odd stomach troubles in the male cookie tasters.

What is truly exceptional about Little Dizzle is the way that it twists the usual "family" theme preferred and endorsed by Hollywood. Dory does indeed find a new surrogate family in his new job, but it's also wrapped in backwards "family" images, notably the warm, oven-fresh -- but fake -- cookies, and the equally "fake" pregnancies. Even more subversive is that Russo sets most of this action in the gleaming, soulless corridors, bathrooms and conference rooms of corporate America, where "family" doesn't matter one whit. In fact, if you have a family in corporate America, it only slows you down and keeps you from working.

Vince Vieluf is terrific as Dory's mentor O.C., who makes toilet art on the side; he has a compelling, older-brother vibe that's hard to resist. O.C. is in love with Tracy (Natasha Lyonne), who works at the firm. Dory's other janitorial co-workers include sexy Ethyl (Tania Raymonde) and stoned Methyl (Tygh Runyan), who like to make love on conference tables before cleaning them. The company's owner is the cross-dressing, Iraq war vet Bergsman (Russell Hodgkinson); they're like bizarre uncles and cousins that no other family could possibly have.

Beyond all this perverse imagination, disturbing imagery and dark laughs, Russo has somehow managed to make his flip-flopped "family" theme work in spite of itself. It's easy to fall genuinely in love with these poor souls and wish the best for them, even as you watch them go through the worst.

The film will receive a limited theatrical release in 2010 and is currently available on demand.

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