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11 June 2008

MOVIE REVIEW: What to Do When the World Goes Kabluey

If ever a home needed a Super Nanny intervention, it's this household. Leslie's kids are two little blond screaming and destructive horrors--the kind for whom kiddie leashes were made.

Over the phone, her mother-in-law suggests calling in her terminally unemployable brother-in-law, Salman. She needs a caretaker for the kids so she can escape to work to keep her health benefits and, one suspects, her sanity. Her husband has been deployed to Iraq.

"Is he like working?" Leslie (Lisa Kudrow successfully shedding all of her Phoebe-ness to play the straight man here) doubtfully asks about her brother-in-law whom she hasn't seen since the wedding.

In this wonderfully quirky movie, Kabluey, director/writer Scott Prendergast plays Salman whom we first see when he becomes so fascinated by a laminating machine that while working at a down-scale Kinko-like photocopy place, he laminates everything--resumes, photos and even a belt for himself. This leads to his firing and he does land at Leslie's house, sleeping in the spare room.

Salman is a failure at kid control, but Leslie finds Salman a job, the kind of job that entails nothing more than standing on a lonely road in a blue costume of the mascot of the dot-com that now verging on dot-goneness.

This is a gentle comedy, with sight gags and thoughtful pauses. The slapstick is more in the manner of Buster Keaton, than in the Bugs Bunny cartoon variety or the frenetic quality of many big-budget comedies.

Filmed in and around Austin, Texas, there's a sense of the surreal in a blue man lost on the plains in this universe that is firmly placed in reality, a reality that has been slightly tweaked. There's a sense in desolation and a slightly bitter stab at the dot-com era.

Kabluey is a delightful little gem that glows with warmth and doesn't fall into the morass of formulaic film making. Prendergast is the same person who wrote, acted and starred in the short film, The Delicious, and one hopes that Prendergast will continue with his deliciously idiosyncratic visions.

P.S. Don't forget to stay for the credits.

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