My hometown of Auburn, California is not unfamiliar with Hollywood or celebrity culture. Neither is Placer County. Among other distinctions, Mary Pickford bought the bar in one of our Old Town saloons (today Carpe Vino) and installed it at Pickfair. A train carrying some crystal candlesticks she ordered derailed in Auburn. A young John Steinbeck briefly lived in a secluded cabin at Lake Tahoe. Bing Crosby gifted our local Native American tribe, the Maidu, with some land for a rancheria in 1942. Maxene Andrews of the Andrews Sisters had a house in Auburn just off Bell Road.
We’ve had plenty of movies and commercials made here, too. Part of Almost Famous was shot in Lincoln. Auburn was heavily featured in 1996’s Phenomenon. Nike filmed a commercial at one of Placer’s thrill baits, the Foresthill Bridge. Many, many projects with varying degrees of prestige have happened within Placer’s borders.
Now we have another movie to add to the filmography: A One-Sided Affair.
The Auburn Journal put it this way:
The film, starring Lorenzo Lamas, Will Durst and Larry “Bubbles” Brown, pokes fun at nearly every aspect of society and answers the question, has America gone from the melting pot to the chamber pot?
Mmmmkay. Cool. Looks like a cute, thoughtful indie farce. Americans getting along. Right and Left coming together. Hometown charm and quirkiness. Old relationships renewed. And it’s available on Amazon Prime. Not too shabby, right?
Even better, the movie was filmed in a house all Auburnites know because we see it every time we go anywhere near Almond Street.
My elation was short-lived, though, because within five minutes of the opening credits I was bored stiff. When the main cast gathers to remember George, a composer who died while dancing with his fiancee, Yvonne (Corrinne Meadors), one character, James (Timothy Huls), announces that he’s got a new reality show in the works, Medium Rare.
“Well done,” says his mother, Nans (Donna-Lisa Otto), raising her glass.
Argh. This is the kind of humor that inspires the launching of small projectiles.
It doesn’t get better. Affair’s triggering subject is whether or not George’s estate should go to his cats, but its underlying theme is masturbation. Apparently George thought the act should be celebrated and taught, with a plaque in the park saying as much. Meanwhile, the President of the United States tweets that he’s outlawing it. The act, not the plaque. That’s the hill this movie is supposed to die on? Really?
We could let Paul Reubens enter this chat, but I digress. Really, really digress.
The bulk of the movie sees the characters hunkering down inside the house while protesters chant, “Stop the plaque,” out in the street and hold signs that read, “God Hates Tolerance.”
“Why can’t they protest homelessness?” George’s brother-in-law, Steven (Jesse Janzen) complains.
Just in case the family isn’t having enough fun, they play host to George’s niece Allison’s (Leah Finity) employer. Sean O’Reilly (Dennis Glasco), a right-wing journalist, who storms around raving about hard work and control and personal responsibility and Sodom and Gomorrah. He’s a creep, but he doesn’t do much besides stomp up and down the stairs and wave a gun around, mostly at himself.
A One-Sided Affair is strongest when it pokes fun at itself, and most of the best scenes involve Gramps (Will Durst) and bottles of spirits. In fact, Gramps has the honor of setting up the film’s wisest moment:
Gramps: I’m not sure God hates.
Cost Less Pest Man: Where do you think wrath comes from, moron?
Aaaaaand mic drop.
Most of all, though, the movie drags. There’s repetition of dialogue and bits, there isn’t much kick to the acting, and the camerawork seems really sluggish. The story is sluggish as well–the main conflict isn’t introduced until about thirty minutes in, and that’s a big problem, especially in a seventy-five minute film (See my reviews of Elizabethtown and Uptown Girls for more of my thoughts on this).
The biggest headscratchers are the intertitles between most of the scenes, like, “KITCHEN. LATER THAT DAY,” or “LIVING ROOM. STILL THE SAME SCENE.” There’s no reason for this stuff to exist, but it’s there.
It feels like the movie is playing for time so it can actually be considered a movie. Maybe they should have taken the characters outside and have them meet some of those nameless protesters. Give these people something to do besides standing around and drinking.
Tokenism runs rampant, too–the film makes a point of checking off all the American political faction stereotypes, and its bias is obvious. It’s self-righteous, galling and just plain dumb. I honestly hope the movie doesn’t get shown in Auburn, because it may not go over so well.
To its credit, Affair doesn’t seem comfortable with its own subject matter. Nans wonders how George’s plan would be implemented, and who would do it. Yvonne defensively gives her a long speech about removing stigma and being comfortable with ourselves. It’s time to grow up, she says, but the way her face screws up when the words come out of her mouth says she doesn’t really believe it. Fortunately, that aspect of the movie resolves in a kinder gentler way than it starts out with.
Aside from some bright spots, it doesn’t take much to realize there’s something very wrong with A One-Sided Affair. No one seems to want to touch this thing. Besides the one-off piece in the Auburn Journal, there’s a meager press packet on the film’s website and a two-point-nine rating of it on IMDb. That’s pretty much all.
Gee, I wonder if the exceedingly awkward subject matter has anything to do with it? And possibly the tired political potshots? Just spitballin’ here.
A One-Sided Affair is not what it’s claimed to be and certain people connected with it are not who they claim to be. The film is clumsy and mostly unfunny, not to mention way too preachy and hamfisted. I have an inkling the filmmakers know they’re not being forthright, which is why there’s no energy around promoting the project. Auburnites (and everyone else) might want to memory-hole this movie.
Another review is coming up tomorrow. Thanks, all…
A One-Sided Affair is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
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