Mort and Roach’s bickering comes off like a modernist play; like a seedy-apartment-version of “Waiting for Godot.” There’s a fascinating mystery laid out in the first scenes of who exactly is Roach Buddy. His relationship with Mort is endlessly interesting. Their mundane arguments have some great rapid-fire dialogue that makes them quite the comedic pair. Mort is built up well from his crippling anxiety/agoraphobia. Hope is a bizarre, eccentric, dark character who feels like a Bukowski-meets-John Waters nightmare. The entire screenplay takes on a surrealist quality that isn’t typically seen in most scripts. The comedy elements that come with the surrealist humor land very well, such as Gibby’s demonstration of using a newspaper on pg.48. The nightmare/dream sequences are both insane but hilarious in their surrealistic execution. The bartender even gets his own moment and monologue that is one of the best parts of the script. Twists aside, the last five pages picks things back up well to end on a thought-provoking final shot.
It doesn’t make much sense when Mort’s established as an anti-social, terrified of going outside, but then becomes a smooth operator with Hope. Would make more sense if Hope was more apparently desperate for a date; or having Mort be more visibly nervous and uncomfortable around her at first as she slowly lures him out of his shell. Gibby and Maria become a bit too stereotypical in their dialogue/language. They could be quirky without it being defined by race/heritage. The bar is a great hub for Mort and Hope to meet up in, but it would work even more with some barfly type of characters thrown into the mix. The bartender who appears near the end of the second act could work more if he spoke a little earlier on. Mort’s monologue on pgs.83-84 feels totally unnecessary. Actual scenes instead of the voice over would be much better in sticking with the otherwise consistent tone. The ending is a bit of a let-down. The over-explanation for why everything is the way it is feels extraordinarily clunky for a script that had been near pitch-perfect in its subtlety and surrealism up until the final twenty pages.
“Roach Buddy” would be a Kafka-esque nightmare if it wasn’t so sarcastically funny in its surrealist delivery. The primary leads of Mort, Roach, and Hope could all make for indie awards potential. Each brings their own wide array of quirks and motivations you hope to see in any great character. On one hand, the quirky parts of the script could be a turn-off for a casual viewer, but the ending seems to under-cut the surrealist fans who prefer the complex imagery. The final twenty pages would benefit ending things more ambiguously instead of all the talky explanation from the psychiatrist. With little demands though, the film is very doable on a low budget, and could attract an instant cult status via word-of-mouth.
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