The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Ro Sham Bo Show

The mockumentary is a tricky type of film to execute as it often consists of dry humor that can be as easily off putting as it is enjoyable. The Flying Scissors, a recent addition to the genre, follows competitors as they prepare for the National Rock Paper Scissors Championship. The director, Jonah Tulis, uses a formulaic approach that draws heavily from previous films including A Mighty Wind and Best in Show, where a counter culture of individuals are seen taking their seemingly silly lives far too seriously.
The problem with this strategy is when the dead pan jokes don’t land, and they hardly do here, the audience is left dead silent and feeling progressively more awkward as each joke falls flat.
Tulis lingers on every aspect of the 10 competitors’ lives, which really causes the plot to sag—especially because each character essentially embodies a different cliché. To name a few, there’s the trash talking black alpha-male, the math obsessed Asian, two burn outs, the air head blonde and Asher Roth. All are over exposed and not a single one is likable. When the actual competition begins, well over an hour into the film, it feels like there might be finally some form of a purpose revealed to the film. However, the competition is rushed, despite some long shots of two people playing rock-paper-scissors, one losing, looking disappointed and then walking away. This happens over and over, the camera doesn’t move closer, the audience is forced to be a spectator up in the bleachers with the 100 or so college-aged extras instead of down in the action.
Somehow the lack of intensity in the competition makes all of the characters seem even more pathetic. Scissors fails to fake the mockumentary ‘passion’ achieved by Best in Show and This is Spinal Tap. Those characters, though absurd, were still a part of something much larger. Spinal Tap was laughable as a band, but they still had enviable aspects in their lives. The characters in The Flying Scissors have no desirable qualities, which makes laughing at them incredibly difficult.
Oddly, the production company for the film has decided to a run a special limited release only on college campuses. The theory must be that undergrads will both be drawn to the film’s humor and able to spread word about film easily—a cheap and effective marketing scheme. Of course, not many students will be drawn to a film with no buzz and an unfunny trailer. So if you’re looking to laugh, then Flying Scissors is not for you.

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