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Machotaildrop

Pic is a bracingly loopy exercise that lives up to its Toronto fest billing.

Cast:
With: Anthony Amedori, James Faulkner, Rick McCrank, Lukacs Bicskey, John Mackey, Vanessa Guide, Jeff Halladay, Fred Mortagne, Zsolt Pal, John Rado.

So many indie first features strain for quirkiness in a forced, derivative fashion that it’s rather shocking to stumble across something like “Machotaildrop,” which really does come out of a left field entirely of its own vivid imagining. Even if this delightful whatsit’s charms fade somewhat in the last third, Corey Adams and Alex Craig’s writing-helming debut remains a bracingly loopy exercise that lives up to its Toronto fest billing as a skateboarder’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Whether such an unclassifiably surreal comic-fantasy jape has commercial prospects is anyone’s guess, but adventuresome distribs are urged to find out.

Small-town lad Walter (an innocently blank Anthony Amedori, like many here an offscreen pro boarder) sends his skateboarding highlights video to the titular corporation owned by a wheelchair-bound former tightrope walker, the Baron (James Faulkner). Walter’s soon whisked by private plane to Machotraildrop’s lavish island HQ, where he’s marketed as its new global idol — much to the chagrin of his predecessor, injury-sidelined Blair (Rick McCrank).

But there’s a sinister underside to the company’s athletic salesmanship, as Walter finds out. His eventual, disillusioned escape coincides with a raid by a gang of lunatic skateboarding thugz who refuse to be co-opted into the Baron’s vision of a genially exploitative theme park.

Once that comparatively conventional collapse-of-mad-genius’-lair climax begins revving up, the pic loses a bit — but not too much — of its initial, unpredictable appeal. Shot on novel locations around the world, from Carlsbad-type caverns to palatial Hungarian estates, pic is a fable as goofy as they come.

If the midnight-movie circuit were still extant, “Machotaildrop” would immediately assume a privileged place: Its temperament and aesthetic rep an ideal halfway between “Eraserhead” and “Harold and Maude.” You can sense the joy various contributors felt in working on something so unfettered, notably production designer Jeffery Halliday, costume designer Melinda Doman and music supervisor John Katovsich. Pic looks like a million bucks and then some, though it was actually made for less.

Machotaildrop

U.S. - Canada

Production: A Fuel TV Experiment (U.S.) presentation, in association with a Friendly Fire Prods., of a Machotaildrop Prods. (Canada) production. (International sales: Machotraildrop, Vancouver.) Produced by Oliver Linsley, Alex Craig, Jared Valentine. Executive producer, Shon Tomlin. Directed, written, edited by Corey Adams, Alex Craig.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Craig Trudeau, James Liston, Peter Hagge; music, Stefan Udell; music supervisor, John Katovsich; production designer, Jeffery Halliday; costume designer, Melinda Doman; sound, Eric Paul; assistant director, Andras Szucs. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Canada First), Sept. 12, 2009. Running time: 92 MIN.

With: With: Anthony Amedori, James Faulkner, Rick McCrank, Lukacs Bicskey, John Mackey, Vanessa Guide, Jeff Halladay, Fred Mortagne, Zsolt Pal, John Rado.

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