DVD Review - Junk

Ramon Isao (left) and Kevin
Hamedani in a scene for "Junk"
The opening of this film has its writer-director playing a writer-director who has a film going to a film festival, but before going to that festival, he breaks up with his girlfriend. He then goes to that festival with his shorter, chubbier friend. This is the exact premise for Alex Karpovsky's Red Flag, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, prior to the premiere of Junk at the Austin Film Festival 2012.

Here, writer-director Kevin Hamedani plays writer-director Kaveh, the creator of Islama-Rama 2, the film-within-the-film. It gets accepted to the Outsider Film Festival in Seattle. His co-writer Raul, played by Ramon Isao, tags along. Raul is the equivalent to the character of Henry, the buddy in Red Flag. When Kaveh and Raul arrive at the festival screening, both are surprised when the actor in Islama-Rama 2, Connor, played by Cooper Hopkins, shows up at the festival to promote it but mostly to promote himself and take up whatever limelight he can.

Before flying to Seattle, Kaveh has a meeting with his agent that is very reminiscent of the meetings that Ricky Gervais' character would have with Stephen Merchant's character in the TV series Extras. After flying to Seattle, Kaveh's agent tells him that Yukio Tai is going to be at the festival and that Kaveh should try to pitch his next movie to Yukio. Yukio is played by James Hong and is described as a Japanese Roger Corman.

Like Karpovsky's film, this movie is also about the friendship between the two main men, Kaveh and Raul. Hamedani's film is a bit more hopeful than Karpovsky. When it comes to independent filmmaker's taking their movies to be shown at festivals or other venues, Hamedani's film is a bit more mocking of the process than Karpovsky, but still more hopeful.

Along the way, Hamedani's film becomes very reminiscent of Dax Shepard's Brother Justice (2010), which is about a screenwriter going around desperately trying to sell his movie idea to anyone to whom he can pitch. As he does, he imagines scenes from the movie acted out by him and his friends. Kaveh and Raul don't pitch desperately to actors and directors. They desperately pitch to each other various ideas, which they act out in their heads. Most are 80s and 90s horror remakes, which they re-enact ridiculously.

The movie rises and falls on the comedic stylings on Hamedani and Isao, as well as Hopkins whose Connor is not too far removed from Johnny Drama from Entourage but who is extremely more narcissistic, self-involved and a fame whore. Hamedani's Kaveh is a bit of a wuss, but moreso an Iranian-American stoner who just doesn't handle conflict well. Isao's Raul is a smug and sarcastic jerk who won't hesitate to make racist, religious and misogynist jokes.

Raul won't make homophobic jokes. That's more Connor's sense of humor. Yet, both Raul and Kaveh do have their insecurities. Raul has his insecurities about his writing. Kaveh just has insecurities about himself in general, and his relationships with women or his ability to even make relationships with women.

Brett Davern from the TV series Awkward on MTV does a fantastic supporting role as a virginal, preppie Christian who is a coordinator or liaison working at the film festival. He's great as at times ingratiating and at other times timid.

The film is simply a hilarious intersection of these various personalities, and for some strange reason, it's all fueled by the music of OK Go, a band whose hit song was titled "WTF?". For those who know what the three letters stand for or the lyrics to that song, you can also know that it's a perfect anthem for this film and its characters, particularly Kaveh.

Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but sexual situations and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 46 mins.


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