I Want Candy
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I Want Candy

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In many artistic endeavors advice to new comers for more seasoned people is usually create from what you know. For some film makers this advice translates into making a film about making a film. This is the basic premise of the flick ‘I Love Candy’ by Stephen Surjik. There is a lot of art imitating life in this movie. It is a low budget independent film that speaks to the problems in getting financing for a project that the writer and director really believed in. This is another Indy flick that has to be given some credit for originality but fails to meet its full potential. The movie was designed along the usually British comedy format which naturally includes scantily dressed young women bouncing through the scene and a few map cap chases. Just think of Benny Hill without the subtlety. It is as if an American R rated teen oriented sex comedy and tried to reconfigure it for a British audience. The film isn’t really all that bad; it has more than a few moments that will get you laughing. The main reason it is at all entertaining is the movie is not trying too hard. The cast and crew don’t take themselves all too seriously. There is very much a feeling of a group of people who get along as friends getting together to make a movie. There are a few inside film makers jokes that give a little glimpse into what an Indy writer and director have to go through. Many may feel that all you need is a good script to get someone to money flowing in their direction. After speaking to a lot of creative people in the industry it is apparent that getting financing is the most arduous of tasks. Often they are forced to make changes in their project to accommodate the people with the checkbook. ‘I Love Candy’ takes a humorous look at just how these pressures affect the artistic dreamer in cinema.

A group of British writers are responsible for the script here; Peter Hewitt, Phil Hughes, Jamie Minoprio and Jonathan M. Stern. According to the credits Hewitt did the bulk of the screenplay. He has only a couple of previous works to his credit but his last script was for ‘Thuderbirds’ the real life flick based on the popular children’s television puppet series. Hughes has some British television work and a children’s film to his name. Minonprio and Stern both are making their initial appearance as script writers here. With the previous work of the two lead writers centered on children’s entertainment may seem a little odd that this story is about a pair of screen writers have to turn their script into a porn flick to get it produced. Actually it is this discrepancy that helps to make the film work to the extent that it does. This is a film that deals with adult films that is bereft if overt sexual content and nudity. There is sweetness to this film that belies the fundamental subject matter. Only the English could combine pornography with a chasing your dream flick without relying on puerile content. This is not to say that there aren’t silly moments here; the film is full of them. It is just that if this movie was done in the States it would have been degraded into something that would be shown late at night on Cinemax.

Stephen Surjik is an American born director with a career that spans back a couple of decades. In that time he has worked in a variety of genres giving him a firm background in his craft. He has worked extensively in English and Canadian television on shows like ‘Road to Avonlea’ and here in the States with ‘X-Files’, ‘Monk’ and ‘Psyched’. He also showed his knack for presenting low brow humor in a high brow fashion by directing ‘Wayne's World 2’. In this film he masters the double entendre. The film hints at being dirty without getting explicit about matters. His style is so easy going that the overall feel of the movie is charming. While it will never be considered a classic or make any top ten lists Surjik provides a solid piece of entertainment. It is easy to see why some people pan this flick. It has more than its share of missteps along the way and technically has flaws. It is also the type of film that you don’t go to in order to analyze. This is a piece of distraction from a hard week at work when you want little more than to kick back with some friends and have a few laughs.

The film starts at a graveside funeral service. As the mourners grieve and cry to young men are off to the side filming the proceedings. Joe (Tom Riley) and Baggy (Tom Burke) have always dreamed of making a living creating their own films. At the moment they are earning money their strange little company ‘Leatherhead Funeral Videos’. If you have a movie made of weddings, birthdays and other celebrations why not have one of a funeral. The pair of friends is currently in film school and is certain that their term project will be an award winning movie. Joe is the one who will serve as the producer while Baggy is the camera man and director. There film professor Dulberg (Mackenzie Crook) throws the budding film makers a curve by announcing that there film project is supposed to be a short film; no more than two or three minutes long. The guys have been working on a ninety minute feature film for three years and are not happy about the current twist in the curriculum. Joe’s parents (Felicity Montagu and Philip Jackson) have a slightly different view of the news. They have put up with Joe’s dream of being a film maker but now it is time for Joe to join dad in his driving school business. The guys commiserate at their regular eatery where the waitress, their friend Lila (Michelle Ryan) tells them they have to be more proactive in chasing their dream; they are all bark and no bite. American audiences may recognize Ms Ryan as the most recent television Bionic Woman. She convinces them to go to London to independent film studios to get their film made. Once there Joe starts pitching to every distributor they can find. Finally one seems interested. Doug (Eddie Marsan) like their film but has a few changes. They have to turn it into and adult film, Added to that they boys have to obtain the services of a famous porn start Candy (Carmen Electra). As it happens she is in town so the guys have to track her down and get her to sign on.

The film is nothing special but it shows a lot of promises for the people involved. Electra may have made her career as a sexy life guard on ‘Baywatch’ but here she demonstrates a real talent of off beat, physical comedy. The DVD was released in region two about a year ago but now Magnolia Home Entertainment has brought it to the States. This is a flick that will do what it sets out to do; provide a few laughs.

Posted 08/16/08

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