Directed By Seth Packard
Review By Jody Newman
Good things come in fours. I mean, we have the Olympics held every four years (if you don’t count that they staggered the Winter and Summer ones a few years back which kinda confused the hell out of me, but that’s beside the point.) Then, there’s Leap year, which makes that wonderful month of February just a tad bit longer, right? Every four years we get to vote for a new president and hope that Florida and Ohio can get it right. But now, I would like to add another ‘Four Year’ monumental occasion: The Great Utah-ian Creativity Campaign (GUCC)
You see, four years ago Jared Hess premiered Napoleon Dynamite at the Sundance Film Festival, ushering in an era of T-shirts, mugs, strange afros, and the “Vote For Pedro” movement. While technically it was shot in both Idaho and Utah, Dynamite has a particularly quiet, easy, laid-back feel to its off-the-wall comedy (something that, subjectively speaking, feels like Utah) which makes it so successful. Now, fast forward to 2008’s Los Angeles Film Festival and we have, what could be, a repeat of that successful independent with Seth Packard’s HottieBoombaLottie.
HottieBoombaLottie is the story of Ethan (Seth Packard) a delightfully clueless, emotionally-stunted, teenager stuck in the rut of life. Endlessly pining (stalking?) after the High School Sweetheart, Ethan turns to his brother Clay (Matthew Webb) for help. Before long, Clay’s got the girl, while an incident involving vandalism and security cameras has Ethan shipped off to California. With the help of his cousins Cleo and Asher (Lauren McKnight, Trace Williamson), our young protagonist gets to the bottom of the vandal-mystery and heads back to Utah to get his sweetheart … and presumably more hair-gel.
What works for HottieBoombaLottie is its simplicity. It is a simple teenaged tale of Boy-Pining-For-Girl, Boy-Misses-The-Fact-That-Another-Girl-Is-Pining-For Him type of story that has kept Date Night DVDs flying off the Blockbuster shelves for years. I challenge anyone to NOT know where it is going. Okay, I have to admit, there’s a climactic chase with a paint gun that came as a surprise (and surely will stir some controversy with the ultra-conservative types) but by-and-large, the story is safe and predictable. So, I know what you’re asking: why does this work then? Well, within its simplicity, Seth Packard has woven in elements of pure bombastic fun. First the acting is exactly what it needs to be. Packard’s portrayal of Ethan could have been Single-White-Female frightening. Instead, he’s so wide-eyed and adorable you think he should have Wall E stamped on his ass. That’s what makes the things he does (sleeping with life-like poster cut-outs, stealing kisses, and climbing through windows) seem more innocent than depraved. Next, the Cinematography by Travis Cline is wonderful. And last, Packard’s simplistic tale allows for some amazing one-liners. While not as zany and outrageous, as a Diablo Cody (don’t you like how I used that as if it were an art form, like a Picasso. Just you wait! Give her time!) Packard has some hysterical lines in his script. While it is yet to be seen if any will grant a ‘Vote For Pedro’ marketing campaign, it is definitely a possibility.
While Seth Packard seems to be a little too cute, a little too Emo-ish, to be completely believed as a social outcast with no friends, HottieBoombaLottie is a great entry into GUCC, a movement that nobody saw coming, but can be glad is here.