Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 5, 2008


Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 3:18 pm

For people who have been following my movie reviews over the years, you will be aware that I have little patience for shitty films. In a number of instances, I will write reviews based on the ten minutes I was able to bear of nonsense such as “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Knocked Up”. I would of course be walking out of many more movies if I did this for a living. Unlike my professional colleagues in New York Film Critics Online, I am not forced to sit through “The Love Guru”, “Don’t Mess with the Zohan” or any other big-budget crapola that an editor would assign me to watch, a fate that for me approximates Christopher Hitchen’s 11 second experiment in water-boarding.

That being said, I have to admit that “Kabluey”, a small-budget premier undertaking by Writer/Director/Lead Actor Scott Prendergast, passed muster since I watched the DVD screener to its conclusion. It passed the ten minute test with flying colors.

In the opening scenes of “Kabluey”, we meet Leslie (Lisa Kudrow), the mother of two out-of-control young boys, whose National Guardsman husband is off in Iraq. Her mother advises her to invite her brother-in-law Salman to stay with her and look after the boys until her husband returns from Iraq. There is no attempt to explain why an American would have such a name, par for the course where many such touches serve to demonstrate the kind of “quirkiness” that independent comedies are expected to deliver.

Salman is the quintessential loser. He has just been fired from his job in a Pip photocopy shop because of an inexplicable compulsion to laminate everything that is brought to the store, including resumes. Now jobless and homeless, as well as being single, he is obviously available for babysitting chores with Leslie and her two brats.

The kids take an instant disliking to their uncle and torment him mercilessly, including pouring scouring powder into his mouth when he is asleep. Salman responds to them with the kind of deadpan stoicism patented by Steve Carrell, a comic actor who crops up frequently in these sorts of sadistic comedies.

A week or so after settling in at Leslie’s, who treats him almost as cruelly as her kids, she suggests that he apply for a job that has opened up at her company, a dot com that is on the verge of bankruptcy. The job involves wearing a padded blue suit and handing out leaflets advertising vacant office space in the company’s headquarters, which is in plentiful supply. The company’s logo is a blue man, hence the costume.

Much of the action in this film consists of Salman standing on the side of a country road surrounded by corn fields under a burning Texas sun trying futilely to interest the drivers of passing cars in taking a leaflet. One driver in a beat-up sedan, who lost her job from Salman’s employer, tries to run him down. There are some genuinely funny moments on the country road such as the time that members of a highway cleanup crew take pity on him and offer a beer. Salman reaches for the beer from a zippered opening in the anus of the blue costume.

Sight gags such as this compensate for character underdevelopment and weak dialog. Essentially, they are a throwback to the silent comedies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton who also bore the brunt of mistreatment from a host of cruel bosses, cops and other miscreants.

The film also succeeds in capturing the marginal existence of economic underachievers in a time of diminished expectations. The fact that Salman seems reconciled to living from day to day without any grand hopes reflects current day realities in the U.S., including that of the director and lead actor himself.

Like Salman, Scott Pendergrast stayed with his sister-in-law when her husband was in Iraq. The press notes explain:

“She would sit every night, in a depressed fog, staring at the TV news with wide eyes and nervously watching for my brother’s face while I tried to feed their little monsters some dinner,” remembers Prendergast. “It was a horrible few months and after a while I got to thinking: how could this be even worse? So the loser in my script got saddled with a huge load of family responsibility and it clicked.”

Prendergast also found the inspiration for the title “Kabluey” from his surroundings at the time.

“My life was falling apart when I started writing the script and so was my sister-in-law’s,” he says. “Everything had gone ‘kabluey!’ for us. It seemed like a good idea to make the sad mascot’s name a cartoon word. And that it should stand for failure, an explosion, things falling apart. Everything in the world of the movie is supposed to be failing, falling apart.”

I recommend “Kabluey” pretty much on the basis that there are far worse ways to spend an evening at a movie theater this summer.


  1. Sounds like fun.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — July 6, 2008 @ 3:00 am

  2. Well, I dunno, from your description it doesn’t sound promising, but if you liked it it’s probably not a total waste of my time. Like you, I hated “Little Miss Sunshine.”

    Comment by John B. — July 6, 2008 @ 11:08 am

  3. P.S. From the clip you post Lisa Kudrow seems to be reprising her role in “The Opposite of Sex.” I’ve always loved her work and I’m sorry she doesn’t get more of it. She just doesn’t seem to fit into any of the pigeonholes that Hollywood has for its actresses.

    Comment by John B. — July 6, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

  4. […] little patience for shitty films. In a number of instances, I will write reviews based on the tenhttps://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2008/07/05/kabluey/One Tree Hill – TV.comOverview for the series one Tree Hill, includes episode recaps, pictures, […]

    Pingback by tv one com — July 8, 2008 @ 7:42 am

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