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Movie Review: Skills Like This

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Mess with this 'fro and you out the do' | Photo courtesy of Shadow Distribution

Coming soon to theaters is Skills Like This, a first-time film attempt by director Monty Miranda. The story follows Max Solomon (Spencer Berger), a man who is at odds not only with himself but also the craft of writing. He swears off the hobby altogether after his first play, "The Onion Dance," bombs terribly in a local theater. And what a bomb it is -- the play's less-than-triumphant finale involves a Howard Hughes-like hero peeling back the layers of a banana whilst an astronaut, Swiss maiden, pygmy goat, and scattering of onions fill the background.

The play is so painfully awful that it gives Max's grandfather a heart attack. Distraught, Max sets off to commiserate over greasy fare with his bonehead buddies, Dave and Tommy (Gabriel Tigerman and Brian D. Phelan) only to discover that a meter maid has placed a boot on his car. By the time he meets his friends safely inside of a diner he's seemingly on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

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Hand over your fake money or I'll shoot you with my fake gun! | Photo courtesy of Shadow Distribution

Instead of finding comfort in the company of friends, he's told to give up and face the cold, hard fact that he is not a gifted writer. Unable to accept this fate, he takes matters into his own hands and sets out in search of inspiration. He desperately wants to be good at something, and he suddenly becomes hell bent on breaking the rules. He throws away his wallet and walks across the street, resigned to carry out a random bank robbery. Hidden behind a pair of macho sunglasses, he storms into the bank, demands a load of cash and meets-cute with a young bank teller behind the counter named Lucy (Kerry Knuppe), who slyly slips him a lollipop along with a stash of cash.

Like a true criminal, Max later returns to the scene of the crime to bask in the glory of his badness, opting to commit the sin again by robbing a convenience store. This shoots him to superstar status in the eyes of Dave and Tommy, and they all dash off to celebrate Max's new-found career with a few beers. As fate would want us to believe, Max bumps into Lucy at the bar by complete coincidence. She instantly recognizes him as the robber but, shockingly, doesn't rat him out. An impromptu, awkward date ensues, but it's abruptly cut short when approaching law enforcement scares them away.

While the film shows tremendous indie-favorite potential, it unexpectedly takes a detour at this point from which it never seems to find its way back. Dave accompanies Tommy on a series of bizarre job interviews, ranging from a paralegal assistant to a carnivalcaretaker, both of which are as directionless as his dead-end supporting role. The same thing can be said for Dave who, like his friends, not only lacks direction but also lacks the character development needed to make us believe that he is the most morally-inclined of the three. Meanwhile, Lucy puts the brakes on her burgeoning romance with Max leaving him to contemplate the continuation of his criminal activities while simultaneously leaving us to wonder (for those few who might still care): will Max become a good witch or a bad witch? Which of his relationships will survive? And which way to the nearest theater exit?

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Skills Like This opens on April 3rd in Los Angeles