An advertising CEO wakes up in the hospital speaking only in ad slogans.
“And Now a Word from Our Sponsor”
Directed by Zack Bernbaum
8 out of 10
“Where’s the Beef?”
Actress Parker Posey (Scream 3, Frankenstein, Party Girl, Superman Returns) stars as Karen Hillridge, a Hospital fund raising exec, in Zack Bernbaum’s refreshing and witty “And Now a Word from Our Sponsor.” Karen winds up taking home a man whom she considers her mentor and teacher, named Adan Kundle, after he suffers a mental meltdown of sorts while watching a wall of TV’s replaying commercial after commercial at a Electronics store. She and others in the hospital notice something strange about Adan, though. Upon regaining consciousness, Adan seems to be able to speak only in commercials slogans.
At first the great Bruce Greenwood (Thirteen Days, Below, Star Trek), as Adan, seems to be a bit confused as to why he is speaking the way he is. Greenwood’s brilliant turn as Adan is razor sharp and smart. Even with a bad case of bed head and being forced to eat bad hospital food, he begins to come around but he cannot seem to stop his rampant commercial pun spouting. He nods strangely as if deeply puzzled and gestures heartily with his eyes and eyebrows whenever he speaks.
At first Karen thinks it’s a gimmick of sorts but when told by the Psych staff that he will be relocated to Green Meadows, (a rehab establishment), because of his condition, Karen takes it upon herself to bring Adan back to her home to have him get settled before starting at the Institution. Aware that she is just an ex-student, Adan never approaches Karen in any other way but in a platonic fashion. Besides, Adan notices that Karen has her hands full with her spunky, rebellious and bitchy daughter, Meghan, played with quite emotional precision by actress Allie MacDonald from “House at the End of the Street” and the under-rated “The Barrens” which also starred True Blood’s Stephen Moyer.
There is a constant barrage of arguments, mudslinging, back and forth jabs and digs between Meghan and Karen which is hilarious and cutting while it is all played out straight and unique. Karen tries to be a hip Mom and Meghan is just a spoiled attention starved teen who is obviously crying out to her Mother. Adan, in the middle of this all still cannot speak normally and continues his slogan slinging. But he eventually starts to fit in whenever he is forced to comment on all the friction with some wise pun or another that fits the moment.
Bernbaum’s accurate and poignant poetic style really works here in this film as it is a dialog and character driven piece. We get tho know how dysfunctional Karen and Meghan really are with Adan being a sort of monkey on the middle through the whole thing. Adan notices that all that plagues the two is a lack of communication. Karen harbors pain and loss regarding her deceased husband and Meghan harbors loss and pain for her Mother who cannot commit to letting go of the pain. There is a brief subplot about a boyfriend of Meghan who turns out to be a dick and Adan ends up helping Meghan protect her honor by stopping him from performing a violation on Meghan. All the while pushing out ad-libbed slogans that never cease.
“Smallville’s” Callum Blue plays the smarmy, vicious and uncaring CEO of Adan’s company, simply called “Kundle.” Blue’s character, Lucas Foster, tries to win over Karen in order to have her sign off on Adan’s deteriorating mental state. The more un-likeable Blue’s Foster is shown to be the more angelic and endearing Karen appears. Posey just knocks this one outta the park here and she has never looked so precious, cute and captivating. Her smile and eyes tell multiple stories. Meanwhile, Adan cannot seem to stay away from the TV and the commercials. In one hilarious moment after finding both Adan and the HDTV on the floor she looks at Adan as if he weren’t even there and upon seeing the set on the floor cries out: “You killed the TV!”
Scribe Michael Hamilton- Wright’s amusing take on consumerism, ad campaigns and relationships is exclusive and quite uncommon. His characters are very individual, solitary but at the same time worldly. It is this exploration of disparities that make this movie very special. Even Foster, who is the villain of the piece (He does appear somewhat like a caricature sometimes) has a stirring moment of realization once he wrenches Kundle from Adan. Blue gives a moving and dynamic performance. By the film’s end, Foster himself becomes a sort of tragic figure who cannot find direction.
The film is not a very commercial vehicle and even with the endorsements and permissions given by all of the numerous companies ranging from insurance to clothing and cereal, the movie doesn’t quite have “large release” or “blockbuster” written all over it. Greenwood is phenomenal as Adan. I have always liked Greenwood’s chiseled and line ridden face and his voice is always resonant and important. Here, though, he is softer, lighter but incredibly deepened by his mission to be of assistance to Karen and Meghan. He wants to help and in one very encouraging scene where he plays the guitar for the ladies, Greenwood’s mannerisms and gestures are profound. Posey and Greenwood share much of the movie on screen together and make a very odd couple indeed but truth be told they are unique and motivating.
Bernbaum’s film is not a Rom Com in any sense. It is an exploration of just about everyone concerned from Foster to Meghan to Karen and of course Adan. The movie has a restorative kind of power making it a very decent “feel good” flick that has some great performances and a warm and appealing palette established by DP Stephen C. Whitehead, making the locales in Ontario, Canada very beautiful to look at. There is an astounding moment when Adan delivers a Car Salesman his own pitch right back to him that will make your jaw drop. During the credits they show an alternate take where Greenwood sings the pitch in yet another formidable display of this under-rated actor’s prowess. “And Now a Word from Our Sponsor” is a wonderful and rich film with an even richer cast that impresses. Adan, until the end remains enigmatic. The ending is appropriately perplexing and open to interpretation but overall the film is a winner all around. Very recommended.
“Don’t Squeeze the Charmin!”