| February 17, 2012

Second City player Daniel Raymont plays Ray Wyatt, a struggling screenwriter trying to dig his way to the surface. The apartment he lives in smells like death – that’s because there’s a dead animal in the walls and a former tenant recently died there. His agent advises that he should give up on his indulgent labor of love and write a sure thing – like a script about a black Santa Claus. Ray gets a boost of confidence when he meets perky waitress Krysten Ritter, who thinks it would be fun to drop everything and take off to Cali to sell Ray’s script. Instead, Ray’s painfully swollen testicle ruins the fun, and she takes off with the only copy of his script.
Then comes the Karaoke Killer (Darrell Hammond), a cerebral murderer who uses Ray’s script to inspire his murders. Everything wraps up a little too much like The Player, but only after things get all weird and Barton Finkish.
Under the banner of Second City, some of the comedy troupe’s alumni pop in (Martin Short as the agent we never see), but it’s not enough to save this uneven and poorly produced satire. The performances are fine enough, with Krysten Ritter as cute as ever, and Reiko Aylesworth giving life to an otherwise typical exhausted soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. The problem mostly lies with the script by Matt Smollon and Steven Kampmann (who also directed), which doesn’t do much to develop the characters beyond the usual. Hammond pulls off some creepy moments, but it’s from his own guts, not the script or direction. They even pull out writer clichés, like putting Raymont sitting at a card table with an old skool typewriter — something really a man of Raymont’s age wouldn’t even glamorize as a writer’s tool.
And herein lies the whole film…a lot of old fair weather gags that aren’t given new life.

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