Posted: 10/04/2000

 

Smiling Fish and Goat on Fire

(1999)

by Coco Delgado



Two brothers made this quirky little gem for $40,000, but it’s value is far greater than any dollar figure we can throw at you.


Film Monthly Home
Archives
Wayne Case
Interviews
Steve Anderson
The Rant
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
The Indies
Horror
Film Noir
Coming Soon
Now Playing
Television
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Interviews TV

Smiling Fish And Goat On Fire is about the quirkiest title for a movie I’ve ever heard, but it fits. This is probably the quirkiest movie you’ll see this year.
Smiling Fish is Tony Remi; Goat on Fire is his older brother, Chris. In a witty opening exposition, Tony explains that his half-Italian, half-Native American grandmother bestowed these names upon them, since Tony was always a happy-go-lucky kid while Chris was “born with a migraine.” They live in their parents’ house in generic “Southern California” and it’s Christmas time. Like you can tell: it’s sunny, people wear shorts and tank tops, and I was constantly reminded why I don’t live in California anymore. Yuck. They both have girl issues: Chris’ since-high school girlfriend cries every time they make love and he’s sure she’s pregnant. Tony can’t commit, but his most regular companion gets suspicious of a ribbed condom wrapper, and accuses him of infidelity…he has a short attention span and a lot of trouble focusing on one woman, as it happens.

You need to remember that ribbed condom, though. It’s important. It’s the biggest running gag in the film. Turns out, they used a ribbed condom once and she said it made Tony’s penis feel like corduroy. I won’t say any more, beyond this: STAY FOR THE CREDITS. Trust me. Chris is an accountant. Tony’s a wannabe actor, but mostly he hangs out at home and throws boomerangs off the roof and ingratiates himself to the cute mailwoman, Kathy (Drew Carey’s girlfriend on his TV show), by fixing her squeaky wheel with olive oil. He eventually meets her pre-teen daughter, also a wannabe actor, and they all just hit it off - to everyone’s surprise, including Tony’s.

Chris, meanwhile, meets an old retired boom man (played by Jazz great Bill Henderson!) who claims to have worked on the filming of Bringing up Baby. (Which is about the single coolest little gimmick I think I’ve ever seen). He’s actually a wonderful guy, full of great stories of the old days of film, and his lifelong love, Rebecca.

Chris’ girl issues compound when he meets Anna, an Italian animal-wrangler, but since his girlfriend keeps putting off talking about their relationship, he figures, what the hell…it’s all about “magnetic perfection” anyway. The thing about this movie is, it was co-written by real brothers, Derick and Steven Martini. And guess what? They also star in the title roles. Very cool. Needless to say, the chemistry is amazing to watch. It’s like hanging out with these two guys rather than being subject to a great work of art indie movie…although I gotta say, their daily ritual of Beach Rugby with a bunch of buddies is incredibly painful to watch. Seems like they wouldn’t have any skin left after a couple of those games…Ouch.

But this is a nifty little movie that just gets under your skin. It doesn’t hurry, it doesn’t spell everything out, it’s a little sloppy and random (hey, like real life. Go figure!), and it just kind of meanders. It’ll drive a lot of people crazy, I’m sure. It’s a “small” film, one that just shows a couple of days in some peoples’ lives and that’s it. But it’s real. Plus, it’s just a helluva lot of fun to watch.

Just remember what I told you: Stay for the credits. Just do it. You’ll be glad you did. And, while it might not be a blockbuster, it DOES have its own website! Check out all the goodies at http://www.smilingfishmovie.com/.

Coco Delgado is a writer who always sits in the front row. For fun she moves to different cities, which have included Montreal, San Francisco and Atlanta. This year it’s Boston..



Got a problem? E-mail us at filmmonthly@gmail.com