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The Catechism Cataclysm

Giving the benefit of considerable doubt to writer-director Todd Rohal, one could say his unfunny farce is terrible on purpose.

Cast:
With: Steve Little, Robert Longstreet, Walter Dalton, Miki Ann Maddox, Koko Lanham, Rico, Joe Ivy, Enrique Olguin, Barbara Pomer, Jay Wesley Cochran, Shane Lee.

Giving the benefit of considerable doubt to writer-director Todd Rohal, one could say his unfunny farce “The Catechism Cataclysm” is terrible on purpose. Certainly the low-budget pic favors a shaggy-dog story, wherein a goofball priest (Steve Little) takes a canoe trip with his metal-band roadie bud (Robert Longstreet), and the two happen upon a pair of Japanese femmes fatales (Miki Ann Maddox, Koko Lanham) billed in the end credits as “Tom Sawyer” and “Huck Finn.” In the curious absence of religious satire, toilet humor isn’t enough to constitute comedy, while the leads’ grating perfs make 81 minutes feel eternal.

Described in voiceover by Little’s relentlessly nerdy Father William Smoorster as “110% a real story,” Rohal’s narrative builds at a turtle’s pace to a gruesome finale better befitting an early David Cronenberg film. Jokes involving the pudgy priest’s fondness for greasy-spoon cuisine fall flat, as do the black-comic machinations of Tom and Huck, who wreak havoc with headphones and a playlist more ear-splittingly abrasive than anything on Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music.” Throughout, pic displays not the slightest interest in structuring a gag, and tech credits are dismal.

The Catechism Cataclysm

Production: A Littleman, Littleman, Littleman & Biggs presentation of a Rough House production. Produced by Megan Griffiths, Lacey Leavitt, David Gordon Green, Jody Hill, Danny McBride, Matt Reilly. Executive producer, Robert Longstreet. Directed, written by Todd Rohal.

Crew: Camera (color), Benjamin Kasulke; editor, Alan Canant; music, Joseph Stephens; production designer, Cassie Miggins; costume designer, Alison Kelly. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Park City at Midnight), Jan. 29, 2011. Running time: 81 MIN.

With: With: Steve Little, Robert Longstreet, Walter Dalton, Miki Ann Maddox, Koko Lanham, Rico, Joe Ivy, Enrique Olguin, Barbara Pomer, Jay Wesley Cochran, Shane Lee.

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