Main Cast: Jason Tobias, Summer Spiro
Director: Adam Lipsius
Hello darlings! Nothing but good news today. I am safely back at Casa Maine after my prolonged stay at the hospital. I’m still a bit wobbly on my pins, but nothing that the careful ministrations of my tap therapist, Lulu Pigg, won’t be able to fix with some barre work and high energy protein drinks. (I’ve considered marketing my own line of health foods and nutritional supplements which promise the women of America a physique like mine but the FDA was unkind to our use of insect based protein additives despite the significant caloric benefits). I also have found my next film project. It’s going to be a live television musical for one of the networks with the higher numbers on my cable box. The genre has become so popular lately that everyone wants into the game. This network, I think it’s called OWL or maybe it’s OWED, has a brand-new concept. The musical mash-up where they take two classics of the genre and combine them in a new and unique way. I am pleased to announce that I will be playing Maria in what promises to be an absolutely stunning production of West Side Christmas Story.
In our sure to be a classic production, teenaged Tony falls in love with the exotic Maria one holiday season, as he schemes to get a Red Ryder BB Gun to take to the rumble. Maria is the teacher at a local elementary where Ralphie, her prize pupil, also wants the BB gun, despite the objections of his mother, Anita the dressmaker and father, who owns the local soda shop. It all culminates with a big holiday feast of Chinese turkey at the gym where the entire cast tries not to shoot each other’s eyes out. I’m particularly looking forward to filming the comedy number, Dear Santa Claus Krupke. I’ll have to get to work with Madame Mimi, my vocal coach, on the high trills they’re adding for me in the Tonight, tonight, my Santa comes tonight quintet. I’m sure the end result will be like Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer, run in endless repeats every holiday season until the end of time.
With nothing but good news, I hauled Normy out of his studio for an early dinner and some quality family time in the home theater. We were both in the mood for an epic disaster film (we love watching hundreds of extras being crushed, drowned, burned, folded, spindled and mutilated in various creative ways) so we flipped through the Netflix offerings until we ran across a promising title, Oceans Rising, with poster art of a drowning Statue of Liberty. I had never heard of the film so we hit the play button. When the studio logos were for low budget outfits of which we had never heard, we thought about turning it off, but decided to take the plunge. We found it to be a terrible disaster movie but a fun little unintentional comedy; sort of a primer in how not to make a film.
Oceans Rising is the brainchild of self-styled auteur Adam Lipsius who was a sound editor on main stream films in the 90s and who came roaring back with direct to late night cable features some twenty years later. What made him decide he was competent as a writer and director based on a manipulation of midi sound files is something of a mystery. I’m wondering if there was a family inheritance which untethered him from a need to make money in a field in which he showed some competence. He must not have inherited much if he did, as I think the total budget for the film is probably less than the port-a-pottie rental bill on a standard Hollywood feature. Scene after scene is ruined by such basic problems as characters being out of focus, mic packs being exposed under wardrobe, and booms in shot. This suggests that they had a minimum number of takes from which to choose.
Anyway, Oceans Rising is about an unexpected and sudden rise of world sea levels due to some nonsensical mumbo-jumbo about the earth’s magnetic field reversing and how things can only be put right through using the Hadron particle collider at CERN to make something short of a black hole (I’m not making any of this up.) Enter scientists, hunk Josh (Jason Tobias) from the USGS and babe Pam (Summer Spiro) from NOAA. As the film opens, they’re happily married but when Josh tries to convince a no nonsense US president that the world is likely to end in Pam’s meeting, the relationship deteriorates and he walks out. Fast forward three years. Josh is now in Galveston outfitting a boat with cases of freeze dried beef stroganoff; sea level has been going up (including the destruction of Los Angeles which consists of some hapless extras running in front of a water cannon), and he intends to survive. Pam appears unexpectedly, just in time for Galveston to be inundated with a hundred-foot wall of water out of nowhere, and the two of them escape in a sequence which looks suspiciously like a cheap model boat floating in someone’s swimming pool. Their boat becomes more and more crowded as they pluck various ethnically balanced day players from the water and the gang must motor off to Brookhaven labs on their first stop of their electromagnetic tour. Now the actual Brookhaven labs are on Long Island while they are in the Gulf of Mexico but they seem to be able to get there in a couple of days and never run into the Appalachians or New York City metro, despite the poster art. There are a couple more day players there, a ridiculous looking electrical accident sequence and then the SS Minnow crosses the Atlantic to CERN which seems to have transported itself into the mountains somewhere, rather than the plains upon which it is actually located. There’s more scientific gobbledygook and some real cheap ass computer effects and humanity is saved. I generally don’t give away the full plot of a film, but I’ll make an exception here so none of my fans feels compelled to watch the thing.
There’s only one positive about Oceans Rising. Mr. Tobias, as our hero, can act (his co-star Ms. Spiro is not as lucky) and is easy on the eyes. He needs a better agent as he could hold his own in a much more prestigious production. He seems to know he’s in dreck but he delivers his pseudo-scientific dialogue with authority and conviction and almost make us believe that this stuff makes sense. Everybody else besides our two leads have a scene or two before vanishing in service of plot. All that can be said about them is they don’t look at the camera too often.
So, if you’re in the mood for amateur film making at its finest (?), you might give Oceans Rising a try. I suggest a drinking game. Take a drink at every camera mistake, nonsensical piece of dialogue, or plot hole and you’ll never worry about the ending. You’ll have passed out long before.
Scientific round table. Gynecologic problem. Duct taped oars. Collapsing power line. Gratuitous ozone layer hole. Mars comparisons. Armed Europeans. Dry land in the background of open ocean shots. Singularity talk.