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No Vacancy

"No Vacancy" is pretty vacant. A contrived and aggressive comedy about a bunch of lowlifes who inhabit a fringe L.A. motel, first feature by Moscow-born, USC-trained writer-director Marius Balchunas aims most of its scenes well over the top and takes a steep plunge as a result.

With:
With: Ryan Bollman, Lolita Davidovich, Joaquim de Almeida, Olek Krupa, Gabriel Mann, Timothy Olyphant, Christina Ricci, Steven Schub, Tom Todoroff, Patricia Velasquez, Robert Wagner, Tracy Tutor, Graham Beckel, Matthew Frauman, Rhona L. Bennett, Arina Gasanova, Micaela Lockridge.

“No Vacancy” is pretty vacant. A contrived and aggressive comedy about a bunch of lowlifes who inhabit a fringe L.A. motel, first feature by Moscow-born, USC-trained writer-director Marius Balchunas aims most of its scenes well over the top and takes a steep plunge as a result.

In its well-worked genre, pic represents the polar opposite of “Grand Hotel,” and while it has no realistic theatrical potential, it could generate some minor TV-cable-video action on the basis of its sprinkling of attractive cast names.

Script’s attention is predictably divided amongst numerous denizens of the seedy Pink Motel, where the “bizarre” prevails: Two losers wake up with hookers, then proceed to accost a beauty-obsessed woman (Lolita Davidovich); the motel owner (Joaquim de Almeida) enacts a Latino cliche of endlessly berating his daughter (Patricia Velasquez) for sleeping with a man; a voluptuous young woman (Christina Ricci) awakes to find a handsome stranger (Timothy Olyphant) in her bed.

Last relationship is the best developed, but nothing here is credible, and comic tone is wearyingly forced. Maia Javan’s’ production design and Denis Maloney’s lensing create a pleasing, colorful look.

No Vacancy

Production: An Ernest Koskin production. Produced by Tom Todoroff. Executive producers, Andrea Sperling, Ron Shelton, Koskin. Directed, written by Marius Balchunas.

Crew: Camera (Foto-Kem color), Denis Maloney; editor, Dennis M. Hill; music, Alex Wurman; music supervisor, Dondi Bastone; production designer, Maia Javan; costume designer, Alexis Scott; sound (Dolby), Walter Anderson. Reviewed at L.A. Independent Film Festival, April 16, 1999. Running time: 84 MIN.

With: With: Ryan Bollman, Lolita Davidovich, Joaquim de Almeida, Olek Krupa, Gabriel Mann, Timothy Olyphant, Christina Ricci, Steven Schub, Tom Todoroff, Patricia Velasquez, Robert Wagner, Tracy Tutor, Graham Beckel, Matthew Frauman, Rhona L. Bennett, Arina Gasanova, Micaela Lockridge.

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