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from Toxic Monkey Productions
Directed By: Brazil J. Grisaffi
Written By: George Douglas Lee (screenplay)
Starring: Brazil J. Grisaffi, Anne Quackenbush, Michael Gray, Therese Kotara, Bob Gebert,
Bryan Lee McGlothin, Tiffany Grant, Robin Craig, Garrison Wynn
Rated: Not Rated (Adult Language and Situations - Recommended for ages 13 and up)
Running Time: 83 Min.
The 'Laughing Boy' is Cody MacKenzie, played by Brazil J. Grisaffi. Tonight, he and his wife Judy have been invited to an engagement party thrown by Cody's boss, Elizabeth Sheridan, played by Therese Kotara. Judy, played by Anne Quackenbush, believes the party could be important to Cody's career, that is, if he would only take it seriously. Luckily for us, he doesn't! Depending on who you ask, Cody is either the life or the death of the party. Oh, and have I mentioned that Cody has a bit of a crush on Elizabeth? Well, now I have. What follows is a hilarious evening of buffoonery, as Cody and his sarcastic sense of humor attempt to destroy what should have been a perfectly boring get-together.
One thing Cody isn't is boring! He's the kind of guy who can't resist saying exactly what he thinks. And 'fourth wall' be damned, most of those funny thoughts are said directly to the audience! Imagine a cross between Steve Martin in L.A. Story with Jim Carrey in almost anything, then throw in a bit of Monty Python and Ferris Bueller for good measure. These characteristics combine in Cody for much insightful insanity. Hey, they don't call him 'Laughing Boy' for nothing! To top it off, within all this twisted humor lies a story of friendship and love. How did that happen?
As for the other characters, Grisaffi is backed by a wonderful cast of supporting actors, who each shine in their respective roles. But, having said that, I must single out Robin Craig, who nearly steals the show as televangelist and party entertainer Mary Jo Wagstaff. Let's just say that she was frighteningly realistic, and leave it at that!
Besides starring as Cody, Grisaffi also directs Laughing Boy, which was based on the play of the same name. He uses many original techniques to tell the story, which include whimsical animated sequences, exaggerated camera angles, hand-held cameras, and quick edits. As a result, Laughing Boy moves at a surprisingly brisk pace, and never threatens to become the series of talking heads and static set-pieces its stage origins may suggest.
I was also very impressed with the quality of this film. Which quality? Well, you name it! The acting, directing, and cinematography are all quite good. The cel animation by Stone Soup is great, and the screenplay is very funny. I'm amazed that such excellent results were possible from 16mm film, a budget of less than $50,000, and a shooting schedule of only 12 days!
So, as you can probably guess by now, I liked Laughing Boy. It's a sharp skewering of suburban sensibilities that's sure to have you laughing, too!
Format -1 Dual Layered (dvd-9) / Single Sided Disc
Region 1 (USA / Canada)
Full Screen Presentation 1:33
Sound - Dolby Stereo
Menu Screens: The main menu screen features the box-art from the video, and highlighted choices for Play Movie, Chapters, and Special Features. The Chapters menus feature stills from the film.
Commentary: Director Brazil J. Grisaffi and the cast and crew of Laughing Boy discuss the making of the film in this very entertaining audio track. Lots of inside information. Coincidentally, this commentary was taped in the same house where the movie takes place! As director, Grisaffi even points out some interesting mistakes he made while filming the movie. Funny, I thought they were 'creative choices'!
Movie Trailer: This is the trailer for the movie. What did you think it was?
Auditions: Here's a great feature that not many DVD's include. The original auditions for the principal cast of Laughing Boy! Apparently, Grisaffi did not have to audition for his own movie. Sometimes it's good to be the King.
Storyboards: Included are storyboards for the film's opening scenes, shooting schedules, and other directorial tools. Neat stuff!
Pencil Tests: These are rough versions of the five cartoon sequences used in the film. Also included are some of the character design sketches used. Very cool for those interested in cel animation.
Extended Scenes: There are two extended scenes. The first is the 'Revival Scene', in which Mary Jo Wagstaff enlightens everyone as to how she found her calling. The second is the 'Castle Scene', involving Queen Elizabeth (no, not that one) and two of her subjects, as they discuss the meddlesome fool, Cody MacKenzie. The picture quality of these scenes leaves a bit to be desired, but the scenes themselves are very funny. Worth having on DVD!
Photo Gallery: Here are a handful of behind-the-scenes photos from the making of the movie, as well as from various premiere-night festivities.
Music: Wow! Included are two full-length tracks each from music groups featured in the movie's soundtrack; The Dead Monkeys, The Strangeways, and Toe Head. Rock, ska, and more!
A.J.'s Random Thoughts:
Now here's a DVD that shows the true meaning of 'Special Features'. Laughing Boy and Toxic Monkey Productions could sure give some lessons to Paramount and Warners, where 'Scene Selection' still counts as 'special'! This is a great DVD presentation by any standard. Nice work!
Oh, and for those of you still watching on twentieth century technology, Laughing Boy is also available on home video in VHS tape format. Horrah!