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On The Lot: Contestant Films - Round 2

by JJ Hawkins, posted Jun 27th 2007 10:24AM

On the Lot(S01E08) I hate to sound like a broken record, but once again, On The Lot underwent a few more tweaks this week.

To begin with, thanks to a somewhat revealing outfit, the studio audience was mere millimeters away from finding out what exactly resided on Adriana Costa's lot. I'm pretty sure Garry Marshall would have had a heart attack had this actually occurred.

In addition, just a few minutes into the show, Adriana and Garry met with the directors during one of those behind-the-scenes sequences (that they don't utilize enough), and sent Jessica packing for the travesty of a film she submitted last week.

I sure hope the show sticks to this method of crushing people's dreams because it's a lot less messy and a lot more concise. I think the producers finally figured out that this isn't American Idol and I'm relieved.

A few other changes of note: Six directors showed films tonight instead of four directors showing slightly longer films like I expected. The directors also had a set genre this go around, which was a throwback to what they did earlier in the competition. Finally, the directors who weren't filming this week showed up at the sets of the directors who were filming and offered some mostly forgettable commentary. I think that about covers all the tweaks.

Tonight's guest judge was Mark Waters, director of Mean Girls, Freaky Friday, and Just Like Heaven.

#1 - Shalani - Doctor In-Law

Synopsis: A son-in-law and father-in-law have a very antagonistic relationship.

Carrie - I thought you did a really, really good job. You clearly went out of your comfort zone and it really was funny.
Mark - I got some really good laughs out of that. Very good use of perspective. Lacked a first act.
Garry - You found humor in the proctologist office. Love relative humor. Didn't think it was quite complete like Adriana's dress. Excellent work.

For someone who doesn't do comedy, I think she did a pretty spectacular job with this one, and found myself laughing aloud several times. I thought she did a nice job with the camera, and liked the scene where the father-in-law heard the doctor's voice as gibberish.

#2 - Adam - Discovering the Wheels

Synopsis: Cavemen get zapped back and forth in time.

Carrie - I thought it was really, really ambitious. In the end I'm not exactly sure, you may have bitten off more than you can chew, but it was good.
Mark - Needed to figure out a better ending, but terrific job.
Garry - Nice film, nice car.

Came across as an incoherent Mustang commercial to me. I didn't find it very funny or entertaining, but if it's any consolation, Adam proved that Zach isn't the only one that can pull off a special effect.

#3 - Will - Nerve Endings

Synopsis: Psychotic physician's assistant plays marionette with a brain patient.

Carrie - You are so darling. Only you could make blood and an exposed brain seem adorable. I always like your stuff.
Mark - I've been watching and I think you're one of the most talented film makers here. I think it was a bit of a misfire. Great execution.
Garry - This movie scared me a little. I'm sure the doctors really do that. I think it was my nightmare but your good film.

This one actually made me a little queasy for a second. It seemed as though this were some sort of back alley medical establishment because the brain patient wasn't hooked up to any monitoring equipment or have any sort of breathing apparatus attached. Of course, a little ways in I forgot all of this and found it pretty amusing. Not the best film so far, but not the worst.

#4 - Hilary - Under the Gun

Synopsis: Bank heist gone wrong.

Carrie - You redeemed yourself. I thought it was really good. I've always thought you had talent as a writer. I'm glad you're back in the game.
Mark - Great camera work. Totally fun to watch. Missed some shots but you did a terrific job.
Garry - It was very good and I think you had the camera work right. You're back in the competition.

I'm not a Hilary fan. I didn't like the acting in this one and didn't find the premise or the writing to be as hysterical as the judges seemed to. I agree with Mark when he said Hilary missed some key shots. That said, I do think this was much better than the first two films she's presented, and it probably was enough to keep her in the competition another few weeks judging by some of her competition.

#5 - David - How to Have a Girl

Synopsis: Couple attempt to choose a babies gender utilizing pre-coitus tips.

Carrie - I didn't really g...it was a little confusing to me. I sort of didn't really think it was a success. I have some concerns about you now.
Mark - Didn't really deliver on the promise. Not a lot of laughs. Didn't really work for me.
Garry - Sex is nice and I thought it was a better bedroom wrestling scene than in Borat. I think you've done some better stuff.

I don't think David did a very good job of conveying information in this one. I was confused a majority of the time and found the film more uncomfortable than anything. And was it just me or did this start looking like a rape scene when they were wrestling on the floor? Awkward.

Sidenote: Good to see Tatyana Ali from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air acting in something again. Does anyone know if the guy was the dorky guy from the movie Eurotrip? Looked like him to me for some reason.

#6 - Zach - Die Hardly Working

Synopsis: An imaginary battle takes place in the work-place.

Carrie - Fantastic, completely charming. As Garry Marshall once said, "Life is more important than show business". That has nothing to do with this. Adorable!
Mark - You are ridiculously talented. I so relate to this. Hysterical. Camera work, music, acting. I'm looking forward to your next movie.
Garry - Effects, coverage, the way you shot it all good.

There weren't any special effects, but Zach made great use of sound effects which in my opinion worked just as effectively (no pun intended). This guy is a film maker and I'm sure he silenced a lot of critics who thought he was all flash no substance. Great idea, great acting, great everything.

I either didn't catch it, or Adriana failed to ask which film the judges liked the best this week. Based on their gushing response, my guess would be Die Hardly Working. Coincidentally, that was my favorite, followed by Doctor In-Law.

Zach is running away with this thing and I don't see that changing much as we go along. They may as well just turn this into a show where we screen a new Zach movie every week. WIth all the changes the show's undergone, I wouldn't put that outside the realm of possibility.

Which film made you laugh the most?
#1 - Shalani - Doctor In-Law27 (15.6%)
#2 - Adam - Discovering the Wheels2 (1.2%)
#3 - Will - Nerve Endings2 (1.2%)
#4 - Hilary - Under the Gun3 (1.7%)
#5 - David - How to Have a Girl2 (1.2%)
#6 - Zach - Die Hardly Working137 (79.2%)

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Die Hardly Working was so familiar to me, I went to youtube to find out why - it is because it is exactly like "Old Friends" by secretfuntime - a comedy crew in LA - take a look and judge for yourself:


July 02 2007 at 9:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jo Deitch

I thought Hilary and Shalini stole the evening. Hilary's film was a riot, and well shot, as Mark Waters said. Shalini's was extremely funny, too. As far as originality, there's nothing new in the world of movies. These two women can write a good script, unlike most of the guys. Oh, for the days of silent films!
Zach's film was very entertaining, as well, but someday I'd like to hear some dialogue from him. I was glad his film didn't focus on special effects.

June 28 2007 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hilary at least got to work with Lin Shaye from the Farrelly Brothers acting stable! But, yeah, how long could it have taken to show the woman tripping over something? It just came off as she threw the cooler into the air for no reason. Not the best, but I really didn't like "Nerve Endings." It's not that it made me queasy, but there was not one thing credible in it and you have to have some truth to make the story believable. I thought Shalani and Zach did the best work. As to the tweak, I'm sure that since the remaining six already know the genre and the other six won't be producing anything this week, that they'll do the elimination reveal on next week's show live, then give the remaining five their next assignment. They had to do the elimination off the air this week so the eliminated director didn't have to participate in this week's challenge. And you're right, they should do more of the pre-taped, behind the scenes stuff...maybe once they're down to top 3 or 4.

June 27 2007 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm past the point of giving these films faint praise for being "okay for what they were". The bottom line on the ACTUAL quality of these films is do I ever want to see any of these films ever again, and are there any that I would ever forward on to a friend and tell them "You gotta see this." ?

The answer this week was finally, yes. Thank you "Die Hardly Working" for finally pulling the whole thing together.

Zach clearly is the only one that has any actual filmmaking chops. The other contestants must just get a horrible sick feeling in their stomachs whenever one of Zach's films gets shown, because it so clearly shows that they don't have any idea what they are doing.

But that said, even though Zach's other films were head and shoulders above all the others, neither of them were anything I'd encourage someone else to see. But "Die Hardly Trying" is. Fantastic job.

The rest? I'd rather NOT remember them or dwell on them anymore.

June 27 2007 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved Zach's. He's definitely the guy to beat. In fact, they should just give him the money and finish the game because his talent is ridiculously above the rest.

Hillary's I did not find it funny or even good. The acting was poor (isn't a director supposed to get the best acting possible from his/her actors?). The script was stilted, at times it just didn't work. And ending a movie with "whatever" with grandma sounding like a valley girl was ridiculous. She lost shots (like what made they young woman trip?) that should have been taken. Hillary is lousy, anyone can do better and I don't understand why she is still there.

David's How to Have a Girl was the worst of the night - it just didn't work.

Will's Nerve Ending started weird, then slipped into slightly nauseating, but quickly slipped into hilarious. I laughed my ass off. My second choice.

Shalani was okay, but it just didn't seem original. It seemed like an old joke caused by lack of language. There were some moments, but the end fell flat. My 3rd choice for the night.

Adam's Discovering the wheel - I expected better from him. He's done some fine "shorts" before. One of my favorite "films" is his musical, the baker. But in this challenge, he missed - it was just a Mustang commercial.

June 27 2007 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was fairly impressed with the batch this week. I got a good laugh from most of them. My thoughts:

#1 - Shalani - Doctor In-Law

A pretty funny movie. I was confused when Waters said there wasn't a first act. It was pretty clear that the father-in-law didn't like his son in law.

My only technical problem was that no doctor would do a rectal exam on the spur of the moment - there is a whole process of "cleaning out" that needs to occur before hand.

#2 - Adam - Discovering the Wheels

I wasn't very impressed with this one. It didn't seem to go anywhere and the ending was flat. Also, the perfectly manicured lawn back in stone age days bugged me a bit...

#3 - Will - Nerve Endings

It was OK, but I had seen similar before and once again, Will didn't do much with dialog (I'm surprised that Carrie Fisher didn't comment on that). I think this is going to get Will in the end.

#4 - Hilary - Under the Gun

Not bad from Hillary. My only problem was that the show's preview gave away that it was going to be a robery, effectively ruining the big joke before the movie even started. Otherwise, it was enjoyable.

#5 - David - How to Have a Girl

Pretty bad and definitly the worst of the evening. It wasn't very funny and at first the ending made it seem that it was a dream sequence (except for his black eye).

#6 - Zach - Die Hardly Working

I think I work in that office. A funny movie that just goes further and further over the top. I liked the "low budget special effect" of having the packing peanuts go into the air to represent the explosion in the end.

At this point, I think Zack is the one to beat...

June 27 2007 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Adrianna did ask which films were the judges' favorites. It was at the very end and the camera missed the responses but you could hear them. Carrie and Mark liked Zach's while Garry went with Hilary's.

June 27 2007 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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