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Wednesday, Jul 23 2008
From the film appearances of the San Diego Chicken to the penguin-suited thug who gave Jean-Claude Van Damme a flipper-smacking in Sudden Death, I can’t think of a single instance in film history where a giant padded suit hasn’t been funny—and in his plangently comic feature debut, writer/director/star Scott Prendergast extends the streak. Prendergast plays Salman, the ne’er-do-well sibling of a National Guardsman on extended stay in Iraq. With his sister-in-law Leslie (Lisa Kudrow) at wit’s end juggling her household of hellions and an unstable corporate job, Salman takes on child-care duties with his usual aplomb—leaving her sulking kids to crash in a den carpeted with breakfast cereal. In desperation, Leslie sets up Salman with the mother of all crappy temp gigs—and soon he’s passing out flyers in the sweltering costume of her company’s mascot, a foam-rubber stick figure with a bulbous blue head. The movie’s absurdist yuks and Chaplinesque sentiment don’t always mesh with the realistic agony of wage slavery and suburban turmoil. But the ingeniously designed suit (kudos to Geppetto Studios) offers plentiful possibilities for humor both high and low, and Prendergast takes advantage of every unfortunate hand portal, restricted movement, and disastrous bathroom break. At the same time—thanks mostly to Kudrow’s stunning performance—the Austin-shot movie catches the nation’s mood of economic anxiety and workplace exploitation more pungently than anything else in theaters.
Aug. 1-7, 2008

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Jim Ridley


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