The dipstick doesn’t quite touch oil in “Taxi Ballad,” an intermittently amusing comedy from tyro Lebanese helmer-scribe Daniel Joseph. Essentially convoluted tales from a garrulous cabbie, the episodic pic flits schizophrenically between past and present, and between a small village in Lebanon’s north and the capital, Beirut. Still, this taxi could make the rounds of Arabic-lingo fests where light-hearted work seems in short supply.

Cabbie Youssef (Talal El-Jordi) is proud of his ride, a ’66 Mercedes Benz on which he lavishes loving care. Unfortunately, poor editing fails to make clear to whom he is telling his stories. The most interesting of these revolve around his village childhood and the colorful characters he recalls. Much less involving are his recollections of a stuck-up ex-girlfriend; ditto his present day friendship with bored (and boring) American pilates instructor Jordan (Karina Logue). Best moments include Youssef as a child (played by Firas Barakat), robbing shrines of the Virgin Mary and marveling at the arm-wrestling feats of Carlo the Tiger (Balchis Safi). Tech credits are subpar.

Taxi Ballad

Lebanon - UAE

  • Production: A Mina Street, 4 Prods. production co-produced with Dubai Media Entertainment with the support of Enjaaz. (International sales: Media Intl., Beirut.) Produced by Walid Fakhreddine. Executive producers, Daniel Joseph, Talal El-Jordi, Lina Khoury, Adnan Mahdi. Directed, written by Daniel Joseph.
  • Crew: Camera (color, DV), Charles DeRosa; editor, Tony Farjallah; music, Elie Barrak; production designer, Nasri Tawk. Reviewed at Dubai Film Festival (competing), Dec. 11, 2012. Running time: 92 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Talal El-Jordi, Karina Logue, Firas Barakat, Balchis Safi, Aida Sabra. (Arabic, English dialogue)