Michael Cera’s short film Brazzaville Teen-ager is a work of art, if not funny (Video + Review)

By | April 23, 2013 at 11:19 am | 4 comments | Audio/Video, Reviews, TV/Movies | Tags: , , , ,

There’s surely more succinct ways in which to espouse the power of music or to explore the complications inherent in relationships between parents and their offspring than to produce a nearly 20-minute art film: Music can heal. Also, sometimes it’s hard to talk to your dad. Done. But where’s the fun in that?

Enter Michael Cera’s just-released short film, Brazzaville Teen-ager, in which he stars alongside Charles Grodin and pop star Kelis, who plays herself. Written by Cera and Bruce Jay Friedman and based on a 1960s short story by the latter, the film finds Cera desperately trying to heal his dying father (Grodin), but for some reason, he can only do so with the help of Kelis and his reasonably skeptical boss.

That Cera directed the film for JASH, the newly-launched premium YouTube channel that features original content from Sarah Silverman, Reggie Watts, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, you’d assume Brazzaville Teen-ager maintains an amazingly high number of laughs-per-minute. It doesn’t. The humor contained therein is Sahara-dry. What the film does best — with help from cinematographer Joe Anderson — is to establish Cera as a skilled director and conceptualist who is finally proving he need not play the flimsy, shoe-gazing, indie comedy geek he’s played in every movie and television series in which he’s appeared. Check out the film and tell us what you think.

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About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.

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  • chap
  • chap

    i feel like this is an darkly comic exploration of the bargaining stage of grief–the idea that Gunther believes that some sort of self sacrifice will lead to him being rewarded with the continued existence of his dad is not uncommon. What is uncommon is his strange idea that this self sacrifice should be the opposite of noble–that what is required is the utter discomfort of breaking unwritten rules of social living in a way that is humiliating is–and it is what gives this film its weird, irrational resonance with me. I don’t understand it, but I feel something. The sound effects and the pace really work well here. I would have liked Cera reaction shots when the producer is humiliating the boss. I really liked this.

    • dylan

      well said, chap. thanks for that.

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