Austin Film Festival Review: SIMMONS ON VINYL

Don R. Lewis

November 4th, 2009


Rating: 6.5/10

Writer: Cole Selix and Mark Potts
Director: Mark Potts
Cast: Cole Selix, Mark Potts, Mary Black, Brand Rackley, Lindsey Newell

It’s an indie film tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme. Boy pines for girl who’s way out of his league and thus unleashes a series of events in which boy pursues girl, making a complete jackass of himself before realizing he’s done this a million times before. While I’m tempted to say this story template started back with CLERKS, I know there must be many more examples of this type of plot, dating back to the silent film era. The thing is, with the right characters and some good gags, it’s a solid go-to plot to have. While Mark Potts’ SIMMONS ON VINYL feels like a movie I’ve seen a hundred times before at dozens of film festivals, it’s the extremely likable cast that makes the film stand out from the oodles of CLERKS wannabes proliferating the indie film marketplace.

The nitty-gritty of the film centers on Zeek (Potts) who arrives to a date with Kate (Black) looking terrified to be there. Those fears are realized when he’s immediately given the brush-off, but while the audience clearly sees this girl isn’t interested, Zeek doesn’t get it. But before getting rid of the clueless Zeek, Kate sends him on a simple quest to retrieve a record that she needs for a party she’s throwing that night. No, Zeek isn’t invited, but that doesn’t stop him from going to all extremes to get the vaunted record back. He enlists friends Dwayne and Dwight, the latter of who is married with a kid but still feels compelled to help his buddy. Dwayne is left to watch the baby and, as you might guess, it’s a pretty funny subplot, especially when you find out Dwayne’s reasons for babysitting are to score points with a new chick he’s dating.

SIMMONS ON VINYL  is funny and the characters are people that could be your best friends. Potts is especially charismatic and is almost like a living, breathing Charlie Brown. He symbolizes every dumb thing we guys have ever done to try and land a girl, so us dudes can all relate. Even though you know he’s never gonna get her (or, is he?), we go right along with the ride because Potts as Zeek is so likable.

I should also point out this film is mega-low budget and frankly, it gets a little sloppy from time to time. Add on to that the general familiarity of the story, and SIMMONS ON VINYL kind of suffers a bit by the midpoint. Still, it’s a sound concept and screenplay: boy wants girl, goes on quest to get girl, travels a path laden with peril and discovery and soon he realizes his goal whether it was what he thought it was or something more. Plus, there’s some nice comedy here and again, the acting is very natural and fun. SIMMONS ON VINYL is a crowd pleaser, and if it continues to be given the right kind of festival audiences, could become a cult fave.

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