Love for Sale (2008)
Most romantic films are pretty much straightforward. You start with a pair of star crossed lovers or even better two people who can’t stand each other. Then, you set up a series of circumstances and situations that alternately toss them together then pull them apart before the inevitable final romantic kiss just before the closing credits roll. This is a genre that is open to a lot of interpretations and variations. One that you might not have thought about is male prostitution. This is the unlikely basic premise of ‘Love for Sale’ by Russ Parr. Of course, since this is a comedy-drama combination, you are not going to get the down and dirty street hustler. This is a character-driven situational comedy that may not be suitable for the whole family, but it is also head and shoulders above the typical ‘R’ rated flick. A fundamental plot is a young man whose life is going now where hooking up with a well to do older woman. It is not so much male prostitution as it is becoming a boy toy. Sure, the line is thin and cloudy since he is reimbursed for his ‘services’ but not in the traditional movie ploy of leaving the cash on the dresser in the morning. Still, there is enough moral ambiguity to warrant the ‘R’ rating. Usually, a comedy of this rating is juvenile and targeted to high school boys and college guys. This is far more urbane and intelligently produced. It returns the ‘R’ rating to people who appreciate a level of drama and comedy that is for an older audience, not kids sneaking into the theater. This film had a brief and limited theatrical release over the summer and now will be given a chance to reach a broader audience with its DVD premiere. It is being distributed by Image Entertainment who has gained a reputation for finding little independent flicks like this.
The story used here was provided by the writing team of Charles Stewart Jr. and Kelly Neilon. Previously they wrote a couple of shorts, one Sci-Fi the other a comedy. The actual scripting work was credited to Russ Parr. Many people may not consider this film properly since it was made with an African American cast. It is not about a specific race as much as it is about people. Hopefully, we are approaching a point where a black cast will be no different from an all white one. This story is a major step in the right direction. The characters are human beings faced with circumstances in their lives that push them to make a certain decision, some rather dubious. It is not that the leader wants to be kept by an older woman. He loves someone closer to his one age, but as a lowly food delivery boy, he is hardly in the position to sweep her off her feet. The drama here comes from the emotional plight he finds himself in. The humor stems from his attempts to make the best out of his life which typically fails. Although the situations frequently border on the absurd, the characters are well painted with a fine brush. They are believable and most importantly people the audience can be related to and understand. According to an interview with Parr, it took him about ten days to finish this script. It doesn’t seem rushed at all much to his credit. The screenplay is well crafted and holds together.
Parr also directed the movie his first being the comedy that he also wrote. He shows an incredible natural talent for telling a story. So many new independent writer-directors try too hard to so off their knowledge from film school and forget the primary purpose of a movie is to entertain. Parr has an easy-going style that doesn’t pull in the audience; it surrounds you. Before you know what has happened, you are engrossed in the story. Considering the topic here this is quite an accomplishment. Parr has a straightforward method to his direction. He avoids the bells and whistles to let the film speak for itself. It adds to the charm of the overall work.
As the film opens, we meet Trey (Jackie Long) and his best friend Vince (Jason Weaver). Trey is delivering food to a large pool party. Vince seems more concerned with the girls that are in abundance. Vince tries to get Trey to come with him but all Trey wants is to do his job. At least this establishes a certain level of responsibility without lead character. A college sorority is throwing the party, and Vince is desperate to join in. As he repeatedly strikes out, we see a discussion between a few of the sisters. Katherine (Melyssa Ford) is worried about what the party is doing to the house, and Candice (Essence Atkins) reminds her that she needs to learn to relax more. Katherine is older and revisiting the sorority and is dismayed by the lack of seriousness around her. She has just been through a separation and is tired of letting the kids use her house to party. Katherine may not be the most cheerful woman there, but she is eying the young men with a lustful stare. Katherine winds up meeting Trey, and they start to talk. Although he is just a delivery man now, he has ambitions and wants to attend college to make something of himself. Trey also winds up meeting Kelley (Mya) and naturally enough falls instantly in love. One problem is she has a very large and over baring boyfriend, Carlton (Dominic L. Santana). He looks down at Trey as only one of the help.
With this opening scene, Parr provides enough of the necessary exposition in a painless fashion. Within the first five minutes of the movie, we have all the major players introduced and the beginnings of the interrelationships. This is an economy that is not often seen in a romantic comedy like this. After meeting a few more wacky characters including Uncle Mac (Richard Lawson) who owns a recording studio we are off to the basic premise. Katherine is angry at her soon to be ex-husband and wants to sow some wild oats. She has money, and Trey needs it, so a deal of sorts is made. Meanwhile, he has been doing everything possible to romance the lovely Kelley mayhem ensues.
This is just a gently flowing silly movie that is enjoyable to watch. It doesn’t take a lot to get into it and is perfect for unwinding with friends after a difficult week at work. The characters are believable, at least to the point possible in such a movie. Mya is another singing star who has decided to make her entrance into film. She is very wise to take on roles in smaller films to hone her new craft and judging by her performance she has a bright new career ahead. Image Entertainment has uncovered another little Indy gem so get the DVD and take advantage of it.
Posted 09/30/08 Posted 04/24/2019