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Saturday, April 15, 2017

TWISTED LOVE STORY -- DVD Review by Porfle

Here's something kind of odd--Indican Pictures has taken two unrelated and somewhat obscure (to me, anyway) rom-coms from the early 2000s, "L.A. Twister" (2004) and "The Mallory Effect" (2002) and released them under a single title, TWISTED LOVE STORY (2014).

The DVD menu refers to them as "Love Story Part I" and "Love Story Part II" and they appear here in edited versions for a total running time of 128 minutes. The only thing the two movies actually have in common is the fact that each features a male character who's totally obsessed with his ex-girlfriend/wife.  They're also pretty enjoyable light entertainment but nothing to write love letters home about.

The first, "L.A. Twister", is about a struggling would-be actor, Lenny (Zack Ward), whose lovelorn friend Ethan (Tony Daly) comes to live with him in L.A. after his wife divorces him.  With no other prospects in sight, the two decide to make their own movie, incorporating their daily experiences into the script.

This leads to an odd conceit that's occasionally interesting--just when we see something noteworthy happen in the lives of Lenny and Ethan, there's a brief behind-the-scenes flash that reveals it as part of a movie scene being shot.  So we're never sure what's real and what's part of their future movie project, or both, or neither if the movie's just a fantasy that will never really happen.

Aside from that, this is basically a very nicely-shot chick flick for guys (if you can imagine what that's like) in which the comedy and situations are blandly amusing but nothing more, with very little conflict of any consequence since we know it will all blandly work itself out in the end. 

Not to mention the fact that the saga of these two guys trying to put their flimsy little movie together barely sustains that much of our interest.  There is a big dramatic scene near the end that comes straight out of left field and is jarringly out of place, but its effect is diminished by the fact that the movie doesn't really take it seriously anyway.

Performances are good (though generally rather passionless), with Zack Ward earning automatic likability points for having portrayed neighborhood bully Scut Farkus in A CHRISTMAS STORY (watch for a quick reference to that seasonal classic early on) and his co-stars being equally appealing. 

Susan Blakely turns up as a pampered but love-starved wife who makes a move on Ethan on the same bed where her dead husband lies after just having a heart attack (in the film's most blandly kinky scene), and genre fave Colleen Camp appears all-too-briefly as a prospective financial backer who gets drunk during dinner and leaves the boys behind to wash dishes for the tab.

Overall, "Love Story Part I" aka "L.A. Twister" is light (very), somewhat breezy, amusing at times but never enough so to be called "fun", and basically just this side of boring.  The best that can be said is that it has a kind of positive energy and is, in the words of Douglas Adams, "mostly harmless."

"Love Story Part II" aka "The Mallory Effect" is more like it.  This time, the lovelorn guy is Charlie (Steven Roy) and he isn't fooling around--he's full-tilt stalker material in his undying obsession with ex-girlfriend Mallory (Josie Maran), and when she gets a new lover, Curtis (Scott Hanks), Charlie pretends to make friends with him so that he can ruin their relationship from the inside.

This story doesn't try for any kind of cuteness as the previous one does, showing an almost nasty sense of humor that's so deadpan and so matter-of-factly presented that it's often wickedly amusing.  It's as though the script were co-written by a group of caustic stand-up comics with a razor-sharp wit.

We sympathize with Charlie only because he's so singleminded and determined in his Mallory fixation--otherwise, he has absolutely no redeeming qualities.  His anti-Curtis crusade includes leaving a used condom in his bathroom for Mallory to find, urinating on Curtis' toothbrush, and conspiring to have the two lovebirds come home to find a half-naked woman in Curtis' bed.

The fact that this woman is hurt when she discovers how Charlie has used her gives the film an edge of reality that grounds its more outrageous humor and makes it all the more effective. 

Charlie and his unapologetically womanizing friend Nick (Sean Marble), who treats the singles' scene like a lab experiment whose goal is to get him laid as often as possible, are like specimens for us to observe with keen interest.

Performances are spot-on and the film is technically very good.  I would definitely watch "The Mallory Effect" aka "Love Story Part II" again, preferably with someone a bit twisted to share its curdled humor with. 

Tech Specs
Runtime: 128 minutes
Format: 1:85 Flat (35MM)
Sound: Dolby SR
Genre: Comedic Drama
Language: English
Extras: None
Subtitles: None

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