Livelihood Movie Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Movie produced by 37.5 Productions
Directed by Ryan Graham
Written by Ryan Graham, Tracey Graham and Curtis Crispin
2005, 120 minutes, Not Rated
Stephen B. Thomas as Billy Jump
Scott P. Graham as Alexander Keaton
Michelle Trout as Vida
Amy Smith as Jean
Lewis Smith as Roger
R. Scott Graham as Clayton Endicott
Lori Yanke as Morgan
Billy Jump (Stephen B. Thomas) is an '80s rocker who inadvertently kills himself when he goes on a drug and alcohol binge in a fit of rage and anger.
Alexander (Scott P. Graham) is a hard worker who busts his ass for his boss so he can make a good life for him and his girlfriend. That better life is cut tragically short when he is beheaded by a samurai while working late at the office.
Vida (Michelle Trout) is an overbearing bitch of a mother-in-law who wants nothing more than to make her son's wife miserable. She does a great job at it until the day she dies after eating a bowl of tapioca. A bowl prepared by Jean (Amy Smith), her disgruntled daughter-in-law.
Three lives. Three deaths. Seemingly nothing in common.
Except all three come back home when the dead start to rise.
Okay, wait, I don't want to mislead you. The dead aren't rising to eat flesh and cause general zombie mayhem.
They just want their lives back.
Damn Shaun of the Dead. Damn it to hell.
Shaun of the Dead is a great movie. Perhaps too great. Because of Shaun's success, every zombie/comedy movie that comes after it is going to be compared with it (until either zombie/comedy runs its course or the next "in thing" happens). And because of Shaun, movies like Livelihood will be looked upon as riding Shaun's coattails, or worse, a ripoff.
But Livelihood is neither.
Well, maybe it is riding the coattails just a bit, but Livelihood is not Shaun, nor does it try to be. It just tries to be a zombie comedy.
And it succeeds. Sometimes.
The acting is surprisingly consistent. Surprising, because I always expect at least one actor to bring a low-budget movie down to its roots. But everyone in Livelihood carries their weight. There are some ups - Lori Yanke, as Morgan, is underused, as she has awesome, natural comedic timing - and downs - R. Scott Graham, as Endicott, tends to overact at times - but it all manages to balance out in the end.
At times, Livelihood is laugh-out-loud funny; even brilliant. In one particular scene, Alexander is called to his boss's office. As he is walking by Morgan's desk, she offers him a packet of dressing. He seems confused, but she explains it's for when he tosses his boss's salad. It is those types of scenes that make this movie worthwhile.
But there are other times where it drags somewhat - bordering on mediocre. However, Livelihood maintains a charm throughout and, even during a dreadfully cliché scene - one in which the zombie Alexander gets a makeover - I never once reached for the remote.
Livelihood could benefit from tighter editing, because the script really is funny at times - but some of the jokes run on a little too long. Nonetheless, with experience, director Ryan Graham is going to put out a helluva film, because you can see the beginnings of one with Livelihood.
Even though it doesn't quite deliver the knockout punch, Livelihood still manages to throw more than enough jabs to make an enjoyable film.
Audio, video and special features will not be graded, as this is a screener.
Livelihood shows a lot of promise for Graham and co-writers Tracey Graham and Curtis Crispin. Even with its flaws, it is still brilliantly hilarious at times. It is obvious there is quite a bit of talent within this trio, and, with experience, they will only get better.
A couple of weeks ago, I received a DVD in the mail from 37.5 Productions.
When I opened it, I found a CD case containing a DVD with "Livelihood, 102 minutes, V2005" written on it.
Having not seen the movie since I reviewed it four months ago, I was curious to see what this upgrade had to offer.
Where the first cut ran just over two hours, this new edit is a much leaner hour and forty-two minutes.
Ryan Graham did a fantastic job cutting the unnecessary fat from the movie. So good, in fact, I missed none of what he sliced. All of the memorable scenes are still intact - including the scenes with Morgan (the hilarious Lori Yanke) - who I'm quite sure I'm developing a schoolboy crush on.
The dreaded montage scene is still there, but it is much more palatable because of what isn't. And, to be fair, the biggest reason I noticed it is because I hate a montage, unless it has an '80s song behind it or Bruce Campbell is in it rigging a chainsaw.
My original grade was a 2 1/2 stars, but this new cut gives the movie a bump to a solid 3 1/2 stars.