Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rat Pack Rat (2014) Sundance 2014

Eddie Rouse gives what is easily one of the great performances of the year
There is much to love about Rat Pack Rat a short film premiering at this years Sundance Film Festival  and there is a couple of things that make me want to smack the director for under cutting what could have been and should have been the first great film of any length from 2014.

The plot of the film has a mother hiring a Sammy Davis impersonator to entertain her bed ridden son on his birthday. The son has all sorts of medical problems and is hooked up to to wires and tubes. He has a fixation for the Rat Pack and Sammy in particular. What transpires is a strange encounter between a fan and his idol.

Now first and foremost the performance of Eddie Rouse as Sammy is incredible. Chalk it up as one of the great performances of the year. Its an amazing performance that is so perfect that it's going to be hard to beat it in the remaining 346 days of the year. Its so good that you'll realize it's a sin that Oscar doesn't include short films when considering acting awards.

Almost everything in this film is Oscar worthy except the humor.

I want to smack director Todd Rohal for adding in low brow fart and poop humor. Yes I understand it would be in the situation that occurs in the film, but only up to a point, I don't think we needed to have the kid farting along to Candy Man or some of the gross shots. I'm not against that sort of humor, I'm just against it when it works against what I would think is the point of the film, which is the ending. To me the ending is completely undercut by the farts. Frankly once we got the fart along I disconnected from the film.

Do the farts make this a bad film? No, but it takes a truly great film and just makes it a merely good or okay one. On the other hand the performance by Eddie Rouse is one for the ages and good enough that I'm actually looking forward to seeing the film again if only to take acting lessons from an unheralded master actor.


  1. Do you think it was the way the fart jokes were executed, or just the fact that they were there at all?

    1. The execution. I could have lived with the flatulence I don't think we needed the fart along. For me the film is a largely serious film with a very black edge to it. The humor worked when it stayed closer to real and wasn't punched up to get a laugh. It was too heightened. Yes what happens after that is dark and darkly funny but there is a realism that the flatulence during Candy Man upsets, I generally find that once you start to shift from serious to silly it's very hard to go back, especially in a film as ahort as this. Thats the danger with short films, one misstep and you never recover simply because there isn't enough time to do so..

    2. I agree. I think there is also a sound issue that puts the goofy sound effects too front-and-center. Almost cartoon-like. It makes it harder to shift back to the subtlety that really was the best part of the film. I loved how it played on artistic integrity and dignity and the relationship between a performer and the audience. I'm not sure I know why the in-your-face farting adds to that.

    3. You said it better than I did. The over done sound completely breaks the spell.

  2. Farts always break the spell. It's their job.

  3. Ditto on smacking director for unnecessary and stupid moments that took away from what was important in this film - the actual tragedy and Mr. Rouse's performance. If it wasn't for Eddie Rouse this would be a bad version of "Idiocracy" and would never have made it to Sundance. And if it wasn't for the stupid farts and other disgusting (in my humble opinion) humor, this would be Oscar nominated short film. Sorry, Mr. Rohal and BRAVO to Mr. Rouse, your performance is breathtaking!