First Period (2013)

CHARLIE VAUGHN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.  USA, 2013, .  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Brandon Alexander III, , Charlie Vaughn.  Music by .  Production Design by Dudley Beene, .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Podcasts:  Bad Gay Movies.  

Well-intentioned but ultimately unsuccessful attempt at that most tired of satiric movie genres, the spoof on eighties teen comedies.  , who wrote the screenplay, and co-star are male actors playing two teenaged girls who become best friends after Cassie (Alexander) starts at a new school determined to become popular and loved.  She meets Maggie (Beene) and immediately becomes the target of her bullies, a two popular girls and their boyfriends who go out of their way to make our heroines know that their attempt to be in any way liked or admired will never be achieved.  Our adorably unflappable heroine keeps her dignity through all manner of humiliations and eventually convinces Maggie to become more self-confident, leading to the grand finale at the talent competition in which they will finally show the world what they’re made of.  Sweet and inoffensive, the film is a fail mainly for consistently never having a very clear comedic target: it’s hard to tell if the intention is to make something campy for adults (the running gay joke between the two guy friends who like to give each other massages) or something that young teenagers can watch and be inspired by, particularly its empowerment message of being willing to stand out.  The super low budget means that a great many scenes don’t work for technical reasons, the school seems to have very few students, the talent show at the end has almost nobody intending and bad dubbing ruins many dialogue scenes.  One can easily sympathize with the struggle to get this kind of comedy made against the odds (and shot in ten days, which is incredible), but the limitations show far more than they should.  Alexander’s expert delivery is the film’s best takeaway.

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