Bert: The Emotion Picture (2012)
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Beauty is in the Mind of the Beholder
Favorite Movie Quote: "Technology is what's killing the human experience."
Bert (Andre Meadows) is a lump of a man. Fat, nearsighted, zero social skills, and pretty much a cipher. He slogs from his miserable job, to his unrewarding avocation as a stand-up comic, to his joyless home.
Then along comes Sara (Jeneta St. Clair). Impossibly beautiful, she is a goddess, and totally out of Bert's league. Bert is not even on Sara's Food Chain! But while following Sara (not exactly stalking, but close), Bert spies Sara making feeble and clumsy overtures to an Adonis, in the form of Steffen (Morgan Benoit), a struggling actor like Sara, and unknown to both Sara and Bert, in a committed relationship with his boyfriend, Frank (Myko Olivier).
Thus begins the impossible Love Triangle of love-sick actress, a gay actor, and Bert.
Coming out of one of his comedy sets, Bert meets a stranger - dressed in red (David Atwood) - who takes a particular interest in Bert, and offers him a joint. Even though Bert "does not smoke - anything," he inhales. Soon after, in a chance meeting between Bert and Steffen- they switch bodies!
Soon, the two discover what they want is far from what they need.
BERT: the EMOTION PICTURE is the passion project of Jose Montesinos, independent producer and director, whose credits include the raucous comedy BARELY LEGAL and the urban drama OWNED. Here he takes the concept of the criss-cross comedies, like FREAKY FRIDAY and The PRINCE and the PAUPER, and gives it an LA spin. Steffen is everything a man envisions themself to be - tall, handsome, chiseled, and Bert is - well - not. The switch is as jarring for both parties, and to throw in a nod to WATERMELON MAN, the once-white Adonis is now an African-American schlub, with all the baggage it brings. The characters had been so well established at this point, that when the switch is made, Benoit becomes the slow, life beaten Bert, and Meadows channels the manic Steffen. But this is not the slapstick comedy that is commonplace to this genre. It is more of a morality play, as "Steffen" learns that with great looks comes great responsibility. "Steffen" in his essence is still Bert, though getting everything he's ever wanted, is still the schlub he always was. What is the surprise is that "Bert" becomes the more sympathetic character, trapped in a body that is everything his "friends" abhor, the only exception being his "beard" and live-in girlfriend, Shewana (Erin Konstantine). It is an acting exercise for both Meadows and Benoit, as they become the other character.
St. Clair plays a complex character, where her beauty belies her insecurity, as she throws herself at "Steffen," totally in love with his looks. In a way, she plays the most pathetic character, in love with a person she doesn't even know. There is also a running life narrative in the form of a cheesy public access cable show, hosted by Babette (Giovannie Espiritu), a bubbly cherub with total airhead abandon.
My two distractions was that although Bert appeared to have a miserable, minimum wage job, he apparently lives in a gorgeous home, albeit spartanly decorated. The other was that the "devil," as this reviewer assumes he was, was never given a resolution, an endgame.
In the end, BERT: the EMOTION PICTURE is a study in discovery, both introspective and extrovertive, and no one comes out unscathed.
On my personal rating scale of with "5" being drop everything and see the movie now; if you're female, bear the producers' children and "0" being burn down the theater, murder the movie staff, and violate their dog, this movie earns a near-perfect "4.75," using my patented Bell Curve for independent movies. BERT: the EMOTION PICTURE is a movie you'll want to watch again for the performances. The entire cast puts out a riveting performance, with kudos to both Meadows and Benoit, Meadows for creating such a solid character, and Benoit for channeling Meadows' catatonic performance.
Buy, don't rent BERT.
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