Wade on Birmingham

Sidewalk 2010: Angst? No thanks.


Movie review: ‘Phillip the Fossil’

By Kenn McCracken

Review at a glance: “Phillip the Fossil” offers a well-worn tale of a slacker’s attempt to, you know, like grow up and stuff.

Phillip the Fossil

Behold the Phillip (Brian Hassenfus), protagonist
of “Phillip the Fossil.”

A sub-genre of indie films can be found at almost every festival: the pseudo-reality film that revels in its angst. “Phillip the Fossil” is definitely a film that fits into that category, and whether it’s worth your time can be decided almost entirely on that knowledge alone.

Wade on Birmingham - Sidewalk Moving Picture FestivalIt screens on Sept. 25 at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.

The film tells the story of Phillip (Brian Hassenfus), an overgrown slacker finally taking steps to turn his dead-end life around. To move on to the next phase of his life, he must get out of his slump, unfortunately trickier than he hoped. The eventual climax is apparent from the beginning, as set forth in fairly exaggerated characters.

While the acting and even the story and dialogue are all fine, the characters make no real progress in the 70-minute runtime. Tighter editing, cutting just 5 minutes of meandering footage, would have made for a stronger movie from director and writer Garth Donovan.

“Phillip the Fossil” is like the popcorn movie of the festival scene. It’s predictable and only cursorily satisfying, much like summer blockbusters. What you hope you see is pretty much what you’ll get, even if it is OK in execution.

Kenn McCrackenKenn McCracken (@insomniactive) is a director and an award-winning screenwriter (2005 Sidewalk Sidewrite grand prize, “Muckfuppet”). His song “Theme for an Imaginary Revenge” was used in the music video of the same title, screening at Sidewalk on Sept. 25.

He’s also a writer (Birmingham Weekly, Spin.com, mental_floss), a bassist for the Exhibit(s), an eight-time cat juggling champion for Malta and an ongoing experiment in sleep deprivation. He occasionally steals your best ideas to claim at his blog, Dairy of a Madman.

“Phillip the Fossil” will screen at 9:40 p.m.. Sept. 25 at the Harambe Room.

Video: Interview with Garth Donovan, director and writer of “Phillip the Fossil”


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