Review: ‘The Works’

The office-purgatory terrain mapped out by everything from Kafka to "Brazil" is trod once again by director Gal Katzir and his co-scenarist Kit Bateman, who make their feature bow with "The Works." This low-key absurdist comedy lacks the original concept or individual touches that might break it out of the festival circuit.

The office-purgatory terrain mapped out by everything from Kafka to “Brazil” is trod once again by director Gal Katzir and his co-scenarist Kit Bateman, who make their feature bow with “The Works.” This low-key absurdist comedy lacks the original concept or individual touches that might break it out of the festival circuit. Nonetheless, it’s pleasant enough, as well as sufficiently polished on a modest budget to make a very solid calling card for creators. Pic should please auds at second-tier fests; modest tape and tube sales may follow.

Accountant Victor (Joe W. Anthony) is a faithful cog in the Mcore Inc. corporate machine who one day decides he’s had enough. Offering his resignation, he simply explains “I want to be happy again.” Unfortunately, his insufferable immediate superior (Armin Shimerman) assumes this is just a ploy to steal the vacant management position he himself covets.

The whole department is already in chaos, since elusive CEO Mr. M (Corey Allen) has commandeered their floor for living quarters. Counting days until his two-weeks’ notice expires, Victor finds his desk relocated to the men’s washroom. This depressing environ is brightened by visits from tomboyish plumber Eve (Danielle Tadei), who rouses the hero’s dormant romantic impulses.

A summons from upstairs draws Victor, plus two goofy artist neighbors (Jerrette Galante, Kim Stodel), into the boss’s mysterious master plan — realizing a fanciful lifelong dream of “Brewster McCloud”-like nature. Meanwhile, the aging building’s rumbling rusty pipes seem to threaten imminent, literal ruin for Mcore HQ.

More cute than clever, pic could have pushed situations and atmosphere a bit further. As it is, “The Works” mines just mild chuckles from its satirical premise before shading into an inspirational whimsy that doesn’t quite wash. Writing could be sharper, leads less bland, amusing support thesps given more to do. Still, DV-shot pic boasts a confident air and good production values that belie modest resources.

The Works

Production

A Harvest Wave Prods. and Invisible Films production in association with Make Believe Media USA. Produced by Robi Michael. Executive producer, Tom Sammon. Co-producer, Kit Bateman. Directed by Gal Katzir. Screenplay, Kit Bateman, Katzir.

Crew

Camera (color, Super16), Paul Mayne; editor, Robi Michael; music, Gordy Haab; production designer, Joe Thompson. Reviewed at Cinequest, San Jose, March 8, 2005. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Joe W. Anthony, Armin Shimerman, Corey Allen, Danielle Tadei, Jerrette Galante, Kim Stodel, Kitty Swink, Steve Franken.
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