Reviewed at L.A. Independent Film Festival, April 15, 2000. Running time: 82 MIN.With: Brent Smith, Lynn Evans, Zeke Rippy, Mary Woronov, Bob Romanus, Mickey Cottrell.
A herky-jerky melding of neo-noir impulses, revenge drama and boxing-movie cliches, “Straight Right” marks a semi-ambitious but wholly unsuccessful feature debut for director P. David Ebersole and star/co-writer Brent Smith. An obvious labor of love, pic is fatally hampered by amateurish performances and a jarring attempt to balance lightly humorous and oppressively serious story elements. Pic will likely vanish after a handful of minor festival engagements.
Focus is on professional boxer Caleb (Smith), whose road to a championship title is littered with predictably oily promoters and rigged fights, but whomoonlights as a masked avenger of sorts, savagely attacking the physically abusive parents of children from his wife’s elementary school class. Unfortunately, Smith lacks the emotional investment in his character necessary to make these vigilante antics seem anything less than irresponsible, and the film’s barrage of disparate elements, from the perfunctory boxing subplot to the two Dragnet cops on Caleb’s trail, never jell. Only distinctions are the fleeting attempts at humor, though the majority of laughs earned are unintentional. Production values are just a notch above student-film level, noticeably hampered by the film’s low budget.