If you work at Jeffers Corp., your life's a mess even if you DON'T explode. The first fifteen minutes of this film are absolutely hilarious. If that had been sustained throughout the entire film, this would've been the best comedy I'd seen in years, hands down—Monty Python-esque, but more consistent in quality. And yet, it gradually becomes apparent that isn't what this film is really about. It goes off in a direction I wasn't expecting. Not a bad direction, mind you—one that was just softer, compassionate, more introspective, though rather less focused. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
George Washington Winsterhammerman (Zach Galifianakis) works as a Level 3 tunt at the Jeffers Corporation, in the same room as Cindy (Fay Masterson) and Todd (Chris Coppola). No, I'm NOT going to tell you what a tunt is. Jeffers is the friendliest, most profitable corporation in the history of mankind. You'll love the 'Jeffers morning' greeting. Charisma (Mía Maestro) on Level 4 sends the day's workload to George via pneumatic tube, on which is a Post-It® with a smiley face. The PA system then announces, 'Mike won't be in today, he exploded last night in his garage, there will be an announcement.' Cindy's reaction is, 'He didn't seem like the type to explode.' The PA system has further announcements, each more bizarre than the last. After Charisma leaves, Cindy gets promoted to Level 4 goob. That's largely the extent of the scenes at Jeffers Corp., other than the large teddy bears on everyone's desk, after the exploding becomes an epidemic. All the tunts have to fill out a questionnaire on their relationship with their teddy bear.
George becomes increasingly disillusioned with work and with the meaning of life itself. His wife, Michelle (Judy Greer), becomes obsessed with a TV talk show and a self-help book, 10,000 Things to Be Happy About. Then his brother Julien (James LeGros, of Ally McBeal fame) arrives. His primary activities are pole vaulting in the back yard and assembling a Woodstock-esque band of misfits. Jeffers (D.W. Moffett) himself stops by to find out what is wrong with George and how / if he can make it right. Charisma is now a waitress in a coffee shop WAY off the beaten path. George begins spending a lot of time with her, and less with his increasingly distant wife. I can't quite put my finger on precisely what the latter part of the film is about, but it's certainly worthwhile for you to give it a shot.
Galifianakis is outstanding as a man trying to fit in, both at work and at home, who becomes more and more desperate in his efforts to maintain the status quo. Maestro gives a quiet yet mesmerizing performance as the dark-haired woman with an unknown past and uncertain future, whom we want to learn more about. And Moffett is ably authoritative as the head of a large corporation, yet kind and personable when circumstances dictate.
During the Q&A after the film, Jared said there were eighteen days filming primary and four second unit. On working with his brother on the film, he said, 'We love working together, but it's hard—we argued, but we trusted each other.' According to Moffett, 'This is the kind of script that doesn't get made.' Obviously, he was glad it was made. Jared to Coppola at the audition, upon the latter asking which scene he should read: 'Let's just work on the walk.' Coppola thought he was getting punked. Not!
Visioneers (2007), Fireside / Mayfly Films, 94 mins. www.visioneersthemovie.com. Director,
Jared Drake. Writer, Brandon Drake. I give this film 2½ stars (out of
P.S. At the CineVegas awards presentation, audiences chose Visioneers to receive the Dramatic Audience Award, presented by Cadillac. Congrats! :)
Brandon Drake, Chris Coppola, D.W. Moffett, Jared Drake.
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