By Liz Lopez
The dark indie comedy “Middle Man” was screened at the Austin Film Festival last year in the “Dark Matters” category and Jim O’Heir (NBC’s “Parks & Recreation”) and Director/Writer Ned Crowley were attendance. “Middle Man” earned the Seattle International Film Festival’s grand jury prize for New American Cinema a year ago this month. In this film scripted over a decade ago, Crowley, a long term friend of O’Heir’s since their Impro days in the late 1980s, was able to get the film produced and the timing of O’Heir’s schedule was in sync to take the lead role of Lenny. Although many know O’Heir from his seven years of work as Jerry Gergich, in Crowley’s story, his performance as Lenny is one that should not be missed as this character undergoes quite a life change – much more than expected – after he embarks on a career change. While the simple “road trip film turned violent” feature debut script by Crowley is not as original as other established filmmakers who have written about comedians making their way to the big time, this is not a film to underestimate given O’Heir’s and the supporting cast’s performances. This film will not have you rolling out of your seat with laughter though, so don’t enter the theater if you are the least bit queasy about the dark side of comedy when someone wants it so badly they lose their way.
Lenny has little to nothing after his mother has passed away, except a mint 1953 Oldsmobile. They shared a love for classic comedy since he was a child, so he dives into action to become a stand-up comedian, without knowing the first thing about what it takes. He is in fact very naïve about life after living in the Mid – West all his life and he is unaware he is humorlessness and totally unprepared. Going against his gut instincts, Lenny gives a ride to Hitch (Andrew J. West, “The Walking Dead”) while en route to the bright lights of Vegas, yet the plans are stalled in Lamb Bone, Nevada that just happens to have a comedy club.
Lamb Bone has a variety of diverse townspeople, including a pretty waitress, Grail (Anne Dudek); her fellow, the local comedy douche bag, misogynist headliner, T –Bird (Josh McDermitt) and Father Ricky (Tracey Walter), to name a few, including a state trooper that does impressions during the routine stops. What I find interesting is the town is so small and everyone knows everyone, yet after Lenny bombs after his first ever open-mic night, no one seems to notice that people start missing. The experiences that follow leave him unclear of what is reality, but oh how those bright lights sure beckon him.
This unrated film has a running time of 105 minutes. Visit the film website for a local theater screening.
Source: Hybrid Entertainment/Lamb Bone Films