“FILM GEEK” (2005)

Written & Directed by James Westby
Starring: Melik Malkasian, Tyler Gannon & Michelle Garner

Polly Staffle Rating: **

Scotty Pelk is easily one of my new all-time favorite characters of cinema. Played by Melik Malkasian, Scotty’s charisma is way too big for such a small production as “Film Geek.” He’s a four-star character in a two-star movie. “Film Geek” runs barely over an hour and abruptly ends in a fairy tale “every dog has his day” sort of way, that then back tracks on itself to really piss me off. This movie was moving along greatly for an hour and then quickly wrapped up in the final seven minutes. Its ending shows an absolute lack of respect for Scotty as if the film was only laughing at him the entire time and never rooting for him.

I wanted more of Scotty. Maybe even another sixty minutes. I wanted more adventures. I wanted more of his story. Who the hell was this guy? Where did he come from? Where is he going? But most of all, I wanted better things for this sweet and remarkably well-acted character. He deserved so much more than what writer and director James Westby offers here. Why you ask? You see Scotty Pelk is part “Rain Man,” part Mark Borchardt of “American Movie,” part Mookie from “Do the Right Thing” and one hundred percent loveable. He’s also a hell of a lot more fun than “Napolean Dynamite” and is the most irresistible social reject since Dawn Weiner (Heather Matarazzo in “Welcome to the Dollhouse”) or May Canady (Angela Bettis in “May”).

Tell Scotty a word and he can rattle off a slew of movies with it in the title. Name a movie and he’ll tell you not only what year it was made and who is in it, but what other films the director, the cinematographer, the composer, etc. had anything to do with. He’s a walking, talking Internet Movie Database. And not just regarding box office mega hits and the films on Blockbuster’s top rented list either. He’s like Roger Ebert, Joe Bob Briggs and Quentin Tarantino rolled into one. It’d be great to have him around. The recommendations of stuff you never even knew existed would never stop coming if this guy was your neighbor.

How could anyone not love this guy? Well, I guess if you’re one of those people that bullied others in high school, you might not like him. In fact, you probably stole his lunch money or had a dumb name you called him like Scotty Potty. I suppose if you still intentionally hurt the feelings of those that are different, you won’t be a fan of Scotty either. You don’t live in his world and can’t comprehend why movies are a way of life and not just entertainment. As Scotty puts it, “I love movies more than anything. Movies let you be other people.” Those that look down on people that aren’t as socially skilled as womanizing car salesmen may think he is annoying. You’ll call him retarded, anti-social, a misfit, creepy or possibly a pervert. You refuse to give people like him the time of day. You’ll never know him and you will never understand him. You may laugh at him in a far off Steve Urkel kind of way, but to you, he’ll never be more than a dweeb, a nerd, a dork or a geek.

Scotty is a video store clerk and the webmaster of Scotty’s Film Page, which gets zero traffic despite the fact he advertises it with his hat. (No this movie isn’t about me. I am in no way as cool as Scotty and I never worked in a video store. On another side note, do actual video stores that only rent VHS tapes still exist like the ones in this movie?) Scotty is extremely under appreciated. His boss, his coworkers and their customers all think he is irritating. Sure Scotty is a bit robotic at times and forces his views of cinema on others without their consent, but the guy loves his job, means well and really goes way beyond what he is paid to do. Regardless, he is soon fired. Though he may not agree, it’s probably the best thing to ever happen to him. Just as this movie is too small for Scotty, his employment at Video Connection did not fully maximize his potential. What he really needs to do with his knowledge is sit in a room and churn out a handful of screenplays, but in the short term that won’t pay his bills.

Looking for employment ends up opening up a new world to Scotty. His life is no longer the safe and protected existence of replacing plastic wrap on video rental boxes at work and then coming home to masturbate over his bathroom sink while thinking of his female neighbor that completely ignores him. Without his safety net to catch him, Scotty now has to put himself out there. He of course sticks to what he knows and first hits up all the video stores in town, but when all else fails, he ends up getting a job working at a warehouse in a field he knows absolutely nothing about – automotive parts. In fact, he doesn’t even own a car and probably doesn’t even have a driver’s license. Sure, it may not be the greatest or best paid place for Scotty’s skills, but by working there he is living life more than he was before. His routine has been shaken up a bit. Because of that I think he starts to have more self confidence. This leads him to actually dating a bit.

But the film doesn’t take us further than that. I wanted to see Scotty get fired from a couple of other jobs and finally settle down in a place he fit in at. I wanted to see him go on more dates and eventually meet a girl that respects and appreciates him for who he is. In “Film Geek,” Scotty does very little growing as a person and at the end of it all, hasn’t fallen in love, learned anything, gotten revenge on our cold and heartless society or made anything of himself. He begins the movie a “geek” nobody cares about and is nothing more than the butt, no pun intended, of the film’s joke at the end.

My guess is that this was originally a short film and not intended to be a feature. Once the creative people involved realized they had something, they must have figured they would turn it into a full length film by stretching it a bit. The description for the movie claims it is 72 minutes, but the end credits are five minutes alone. The actual length of the movie is 67 minutes. That and the fact Westby says he wrote the script in three weeks, lets me know he never fully realized how special a character Scotty was. But then again, the Scotty Pelks of the real world are never treated with the respect they deserve either. They are pretty much ignored by society and if they are paid attention to, it’s so someone can laugh at their expense. What a shame.

- CCF, September 2006

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