Off the Lip

It's pretty amazing how much can change in a few years. Off the Lip, was made near the end of the dot-com boom. Internet startups were still flying high, and some of this attitude is reflected in the film. For whatever reason, it sat on the shelf, and now that it hits theaters, it seems hopelessly out of date. The fact that it is not very good does not help the film either. Now, only in the movies can a completely unqualified person get a salary of $3,000, a hefty per diem, and an unlimited charge card all for use on a trip to Hawaii to find an elusive surfer. Well, lucky for Kat (Marguerite Moreau, Runaway Jury, Queen of the Damned). In its execution, Off the Lip highly resembles another film that few people will have heard of; Stardom. Both star attractive young women hopefully at the beginning of their Hollywood ascent. Annoying, both pretend to patch together various video sources resulting in the movie. Most of Off the Lip comes from a hand-held video camera wielded by one of the primary cast members. The rest of it comes from whatever surveillance camera is nearby, whether it be from a hotel, beach, or whatever.

Director Robert Mickelson and writer Shem Bitterman (Tinseltown, Out of the Rain) probably thought that this was a really clever thing to do. They present the film as Kat's web diary of her quest for "the Monk," a legendary big wave surfer somewhere in Hawaii. Instead, this idea is incredibly limiting. It forces the film to come up with random shots in airports and restaurants with annoying date and time stamps in the corner of the screen, and becomes old really fast. The hand-held scenes are jerky and go all over the place like one would expect them to, but that also becomes annoying. Kat is reporting back to her co-worker Dave (Adam Scott, Torque, High Crimes), who is actually telling the entire story in flashback. Wow, another gimmick that fall flat.

The search for the Monk is both physical and emotional. Initially, Kat is just looking for the freaking guy. As he becomes harder to find, and Kat experiences more, the search becomes more of a spiritual journey for her. The Monk represents something untouched, pristine, and full of hope. She is struggling to find her own voice. Her boyfriend Brad (Mackenzie Astin, How to Deal, The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human) is tagging along, making a documentary about her search (and hey, conveniently providing some more footage) and the relationship is already strained.

It feels like watching some really bad vacation videos. There are many attempts at bad humor, both from stupid situations and from lame jokes. Brad's sound men suffer Spinal Tap drummer-like deaths that are not funny. Everybody that Kat and company meet in their search for the Monk seems to be really strange. Like young people, they often get drunk or stoned. And Off the Lip just drones on. By the midway point, nobody really cares if she finds the Monk or not. Late in the film, some contrived dramatics arise that do nothing more than prolong the film. Presumably, it's to present a sense of urgency to Kat. She is forced to examine her life and look at what's important to her and her future. Blah blah blah, whatever.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 27 minutes, Rated R for language, some drug use, and sexual content.

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