By Matthew Lance
Produced by Sacred 9 Films
Written, Produced and Directed by J. Antonio
Starring: Jason Torres, Bettina Skye and Timothy J. Cox
Running Time: 85 Minutes
IMDB Page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5702636/combined
That’s the best word I can use to describe Sacred 9 Films’ new feature film Night Job.
“Inexperience and lots of it,” was the thought I had as I watched writer / producer / director J. Antonio’s 85 minute, debut feature about the trials and tribulations of night doorman / lobby concierge James (Jason Torres) as he weaves through the wild and crazy antics and situations of the residents of a trendy Manhattan high rise apartment.
With its style of storytelling and the fact that it was filmed in black and white, Night Job is an obvious homage to Kevin Smith’s breakthrough comedy Clerks.
The new films’ concept has strong comedic potential, yes, but when you have a lot of inexperience in front of and behind the camera, that inexperience will show and it shows quite a bit in Mr. Antonio’s film.
Where Mr. Smith’s Clerks was the genuinely funny and unique darling of the indie film world when it was released in 1994 (thanks to a solid, original and quotable script), Mr. Antonio’s film, however, barely received a titter of laughter from this reviewer.
Of its many problems, Night Job is hampered by a poorly constructed script with zero flow and zero substance. Scenes dragged on and on, often moving into the realm of the nonsensical.
Most problematic of all…there were way TOO many characters (most of them also lacking in substance) for the audience to follow. Get this: This film features a supporting cast of 50 actors playing the various residents. 50??? If you think that sounds exhausting, try watching it all unfold. It was exhausting and even dizzying at times. I love ensemble pieces, but this was overkill.
Throw in poor comedic pacing, slapdash cinematography (lots of focus issues) and a slew of amateurish performances and sorry, to say, but what you get with Night Job is a jumbled mess of a film; nothing more than a series of weak vignettes thrown together. Mr. Antonio would have done better to make a much shorter film and focus on only a handful of the residents.
As James, Jason Torres is amiable in the part, but he simply doesn’t have the comedic chops to pull the role off successfully. This character is like Mortimer Brewster, played memorably by Cary Grant, in Arsenic and Old Lace. Grant understood that comedy comes from tension. It’s how you draw an audience in and keeps them enthralled and how we, the audience, relate and sympathize with the character(s) and his/her plight. There was none of that tension in Mr. Torres performance.
Most of the acting from the supporting cast is amateurish, but I must commend (yes, I do have something positive to report) two veteran actors, Bettina Skye and Timothy J. Cox (The most experienced actors in the film, with close to 200 film credits between the two of them) who manage to score points in brief (all too brief) characterizations as two tenants in the building. Mr. Cox provided the one burst of comedic energy that the rest of the film sorely lacked.
I hope Mr. Antonio makes another film, but I also hope he hires an experienced screenwriter for his next effort.
Night Job might have been a funny idea, but the results here are a mess.
For information on Night Job, please visit the films’ Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NightJobMovie/