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Point B
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by Jay Seaver

"A fun throwback to a cool sort of 1980s movie."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2014 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: Back in the 1980s, the first wave of home computer sales and blockbuster science-fiction/fantasy movies led to Hollywood's first real go-round with treating "nerdiness" as a trend, and one of the ways that expressed itself was with a fair number of "college/high-school genius" movies. This time around, the nerd-next-door or the lavish adaptation of a cult property is more popular. Still, every once in a while a fun throwback like "Point B" comes around and serves as a reminder of how much fun that other fantasy can be.

This one opens with Mark (David Fetzer) defending his thesis about a theoretical clean energy source, only to have it be a disaster because he's twenty minutes late and his best friend and benefactor Alan (Jared Shipley), and even worse, it's a disaster in front of eminently crush-worthy fellow physics grad student Katie (Heather Murdock). It's enough of a mess that he's almost willing to destroy the apparatus he built with Alan, stoner engineer Jason (John McLerran), and straight-edge undergrad Andrew (Eric Fisher) - at least, until he discovers it can be used as a teleportation device. Then things get interesting.

Writer David Gitlin and director Conor Long (both also producers) do not exactly re-invent the wheel with Point B - there's a corporate/government goon (Eric McGraw), friction between Mark and Alan, an amazing scientific discovery used for incredibly trivial things, side effects, and the like. Sometimes it can seem like Gitlin & Long are doing this out of obligation: This type of movie has this type of thing happen, so they put in scenes with those things, even if the motivation for Alan to be at odds with Mark is asserted as something we apparently should have already known. On the other hand, the filmmakers don't exactly stint on the gags or hold back with them, even when they are in hilariously awful taste.

Long and company also seem to have a good time with making this a deliberate throwback to a 1980s-style movie, even if they set it firmly in the present day (so, yes, people have cell phones and the internet). The soundtrack is put together from a bunch of bands whose music probably wouldn't sound out of place on the same playlist as Tangerine Dream, and both the shooting style and the editing that incorporates a lot of streaking and split-screens (with purple borders, of course) look retro. Not in a mocking way, either; the filmmakers are just appropriating the look and sound of when this sort of movie thrived.

They've also got a pretty funny cast, most local to Utah but pulled from the right part of the talent pool. It actually ticked me off to see an "in memory of" dedication for star David Fetzer, because he is very funny as the nerdy but endearing Mark, a character actor who can handle center stage just as well as stealing scenes; I would have really liked to see him show up in bigger productions, even as just part of an ensemble. He worked especially well with Jared Shipley, an entertainingly sarcastic counter, whether to Fetzer or Eric McGraw. Josh McLerran and Eric Fisher are both very funny as complete opposites who play well off each other. It would be nice if there were a few more chances for Heather Murdock to do something funny - or parts for women in general.

I'm not sure why this particular sort of comedy hasn't made more of a comeback recently. One would think today's current sci-fi-savvy youth audience would be even more open tot hat, even without the throwback elements.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=26287&reviewer=371
originally posted: 02/17/14 22:51:14
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2014 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/22/14 Dave Chapman Fun retro sci-fi film well worth a look! 5 stars
2/21/14 paul larsen very funny 5 stars
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Directed by
  Conor Long

Written by
  David Gitlin

  David Fetzer
  Josh McLerran
  Gabe Casdorph
  Jared Shipley
  Eric McGraw
  Heather Murdock

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