By Don Simpson | November 11, 2009
Director: Brant Sersen
Writer(s): Brant Sersen
Starring: Thomas Middleditch, Rachael Taylor, Lea Thompson, Christopher McDonald, Dean Winters, Frankie Faison, Jason Rogel
Justin Frost (Thomas Middleditch) is a quirky, hyper and lanky twenty-something slacker. He works for his rotund best friend Wayne’s (Jason Rogel) landscaping business and still lives in his hometown with his mother (Lea Thompson from Back to the Future). Other than karate, he doesn’t seem to have any hobbies or skills or ambitions; as Justin proclaims, his “thing” is that he has no “thing” at all.
Justin is preyed upon by a sexy con-artist named Galaxy (Rachael Taylor from Transformers). Galaxy is a carnie, uh-hum splinterhead, with a traveling carnival that has come to Justin’s home town. Since there’s little else to do, Justin and Wayne wind up spending a lot of time hanging around the carnival, thus bumping into Galaxy often. Justin eventually finds himself at a local swimming hole with Galaxy as she searches for a geo-cache (one of the many “things” that define Galaxy). As soon as Justin sees Galaxy all wet and in her skivvies, there’s no turning back for the poor guy; but it’s not long until Justin has his first run-in with Galaxy’s ferociously possessive pit bull of a boyfriend, Reggie (Dean Winters of HBO’s Oz). Of course his altercations with Reggie only increase Justin’s desire to save Galaxy from Reggie. Matters only become more complicated when Justin finds himself continuously being harassed by a lovelorn cop – Sergeant Mancuso (Christopher McDonald of Happy Gilmore) – who is hopelessly in love with Justin’s mother and is desperate to regain her affection.
Written and directed by Brant Sersen (Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story – winner of the Audience Award at the 2004 SXSW Film Festival), Splinterheads takes complete advantage of its carnie and spliterhead cast – it is chock-full of offbeat characters (Jason Mantzoukas is hilarious as “The Amazing Steve”); but it does have a tendency to be manic and crazed, which can be disorienting (it took me a ten or so minutes to really settle into the tone and pacing of the film). All of the characters are so quirky and so exaggerated, that there’s never a sense of being grounded in reality – then again, this is the movies and Splinterheads is pure fiction.
Filmmakers should take note: effectively using a Buzzcocks’ song (in this case “What Do I Get?”) in the opening credits of a film is a surefire way to get my attention!