One man’s epic goof, “I Am a Knife With Legs” took writer-director-producer-composer-editor-star Bennett Jones a purported seven years to make, at a reported total cost of $12,000. While some may find its joke thin from the outset, others will grok the deadpan absurdism at work here, and anyone would have to admire the singularity of vision required to steer such a willfully silly project over a long, long haul. A good bet for festival and regular midnight slots, this likable hunk of musical-comedic nonsense stands a chance of catching on as a (very) niche theatrical and home-format item whose similar sensibility might attract fans of TV’s “Flight of the Conchords” and Cory McAbee’s features (“The American Astronaut”).
Los Angeles-based comedian Jones developed his character here in standup gigs. Bene is a self-identified “international pop star” with a posh Gallic accent who expresses himself in slightly surreal ESL, and is equally pretentious yet clueless in every other department as well. His ample vanity is most notably served by wearing shirts with “ab-holes” that show off his furry, theoretically ripped midsection.
However, all is not glamour and hedonism in Bene’s world. A suicide bomber recently killed his girlfriend, and a fatwa has supposedly been issued on his own life. So Bene and his portly sidekick/bodyguard/agent, Beefy (Will Crest), are temporarily holed up in a safe-house apartment in Silverlake, where nearly all the action here — such as it is — takes place.
Indeed, aside from one amusing outdoor excursion that parodies parkour chase sequences, and the late arrival of a 6-year-old assassin superspy (Ashley Koiso), hardly anything happens — which is more or less the point. Jones’ humor is one of maximum randomness, with constant digressions, flashbacks, song interludes and aimless conversations interrupting the central nothing-much-happening with even more trivial pursuits. It’s a shtick that may quickly grow enervating for those who dislike comedies in which every gag is a throwaway one.
But while more likely to amuse than provoke big laughs, “I Am a Knife With Legs” has considerable loopy appeal for viewers willing to get on its wavelength. Bene’s songs — their lyrics as daft as titles like “Changes Make Things Different” and “Attractivity” suggest — run a gamut of parodic genre styles, while their staging makes a virtue of the cheapest possible production resources. (They’re like musicvideos produced for public access cable, rather than MTV, 30 years ago.)
Potential monotony is further broken up by animation elements so low-end they’re just a step above waving a child’s crayon drawings in front of the camera. It helps, of course, that Bene is a jaded half-wit whom Jones renders strangely compelling and quite funny.