Closing Escrow

Considering the conversational energy we expend on real estate, it's a wonder there haven't been more comedies about buying and selling, deductible interest and subprime mortgages.

With:
With: April Barnett, Rob Brownstein, Colleen Crabtree, Andrew Friedman, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Bruce Thomas, Patty Wortham, Cedric Yarbrough.

Considering the conversational energy we expend on real estate, it’s a wonder there haven’t been more comedies about buying and selling, deductible interest and subprime mortgages. (Take my house … please!) Unapologetically modeled on the mockumentaries of Christopher Guest, “Closing Escrow” is a sometimes laugh-out-loud send-up of homebuyers’ worst instincts, the extreme behavior of real-estate agents and what happens when the certifiably insane save enough for a down payment. B.O. may depend on how cutthroat the local housing market is, but cult status seems assured.

Writer-directors Armen Kaprelian and Kent Llewellyn set up three atypical couples on a collision course for the same piece of prime property; en route, they experience nightmarish encounters with agents and sellers. Not that the characters are innocents: Dawn and Tom (Patty Wortham, Andrew Friedman), for instance, are looking to move out of the home once shared by Tom and his ex, whom Dawn terrorized with dead rabbits nailed to the front door.

Tamika and Bobby (April Barnett, Cedric Yarbrough) are buppie lawyers looking for a loft; they have the misfortune of hiring as their agent the bitter, racist and hysterically funny Hillary (Wendi McLendon-Covey, “Reno 911!”). Mary and Allen (Colleen Crabtree, Rob Brownstein) want their dream home, but Allen keeps changing his wishlist, driving his agent, Peter (Bruce Thomas), crazy. No one’s really in his or her right mind, and the vagaries of the market — and home-lust — conspire to make them even nuttier.

The style is very Guestian, with helmers Kaprelian and Llewellyn staging interviews with their characters and using omnipotent third-party observation as well. Their sense of comedic restraint is nonexistent — no limits about character or circumstance will keep them from going for the obvious joke if it happens to be sitting there like an underpriced three-bedroom in a good school district. Who can blame them? “Location, location, location” may not be the usual motto of comedy directors, but Kaprelian and Llewellyn have no trouble finding a groove for what ultimately is an audacious satire.

Tech credits are appropriate for a film posing as a low-budget docu.

Closing Escrow

Production: A Magnolia Pictures release of an Awkward Silence production, in association with HD Vision Studios, 16X9 Prods. Produced by Kristen Cox. Executive producers, Armen Kaprelian, Randall P. Dark. Directed, written, edited by Armen Kaprelian, Kent Llewellyn.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Scott Billups; set decorator, Josh Rose; sound, Seth Gilbert; visual effects supervisor, Billups; assistant director, Mollie Stallman. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Aug. 25, 2007. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: With: April Barnett, Rob Brownstein, Colleen Crabtree, Andrew Friedman, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Bruce Thomas, Patty Wortham, Cedric Yarbrough.

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