Aspiring directors looking to break in to the business are often called upon to make low-budget films which go straight to video. Poorly funded, written by the producer's friend or relative, and acted with little inspiration, these movies take up space on the video shelves of the civilized world, just waiting to be rented by some shmoe who sees a familiar face on the cover. These directors call it "paying your dues." We call it "making crap."
So when we recently went to see a talk by Doug Liman, director of the indy film hit Swingers and the more recent pop flick Go, our ears perked up when he mentioned the film during which he "paid his dues." Liman was proud of the opening sequence, which he had filmed for $500 of his own money. (The producers had no money left for the title sequence Liman wanted.) But during those few minutes of film, we got a look at the people acting in this crappy video: Andrew McCarthy, Christine Baranski, Matthew Perry, Kristy Swanson, Dave Chapelle, Calista Flockhart. That's when we knew we were destined to review Getting In.
To be fair, those opening minutes are quite good, especially for that kind of money. Liman had some great stories about the rat scurrying around the halls of the college psychology lab, and the cat who refused to chase it. (Instead, Liman says, the rat chased the cat and they edited the film to make it look otherwise.) Because rats refuse to move on cue, in one scene we see the rat dragged after the camera with some fishing line. Apparently the ASPCA wasn't on the set that day, and Liman excuses it by explaining that the rats were intended for consumption by snakes anyway. But beyond this inspired piece of guerilla filmmaking, Getting In is fairly representative of these tired "college hyjinx" films that pass for comedy.
"I have money and a dog!
Guess I don't need food anymore!"
Gabriel Higgs (Stephen Mailer) is the most recent son in a long line of Higgs men, all of whom have attended Johns Hopkins university since its very first class. Despite his love of botany, Gabe submits to his family tradition and applies to Johns Hopkins. Unfortunately, a mistake on his MCAT test places him on the waiting list, and rather than tell his parents about it, Gabe decides to try and convince the five candidates ahead of him to withdraw from the list, starting with a girl upon whom he has a crush, Kirby Watts (Swanson, who is a long way from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). But in the typical "overcome by her beauty" mixup, his attempt to convince her to drop off the list is misinterpreted as a come-on, and he ends up with a date instead.
Gabe next meets with Rupert Grimes (Andrew McCarthy), a morose type who gladly drops off the waiting list. Gabriel then breaks his date with Kirby, because he needs to go to New Hampshire to bribe Randall Burns (Matthew Perry, who we hear is on some tv show these days). Randall turns out to be an idiotic frat-boy, and Gabe has to fall back on his backup plan, bribery. But Randall wants more money than Gabe can provide, and Randall threatens to reveal Gabe's scheme if he doesn't get the money he wants.
"I don't drink... blood. Wait!
That wasn't right, let me try again."
At this point something must have been cut, because Gabe and Kirby magically hook up. Then Gabe breaks into his parents' house to steal a valuable painting in order to get the money to bribe Randall, but he later finds out this unnecessary, because Randall is dead! It seems that after Gabe visited him, Randall died in a bizarre lab accident. As Gabe and Kirby's romance progresses, all of the other people on the list die soon after Gabe contacts them.
After Mr. Perry, the most noteworthy victim is Amanda Morel, played by Calista Flockhart. She dies after eating a poisoned pizza. That's right, we see Calista Flockhart eat! Some folks might want to watch Getting In for this feature alone, but we warn you -- it takes place in a long shot. She might just take the bite and chew. We have no way of knowing that she actually swallowed.
The humor in Getting In is constantly undercut by the fact that the jokes are all punch line and no set up. The worst offender is Dave Chappelle as a computer nerd named Ron. Ron is supposed to have extreme agoraphobia, and towards the end of the movie this fact, plus the reason for it, come into play. But the initial mention of his fear is either non-exisitent or so brief that we missed it while blinking.
Apart from a few interesting camera setups and Swanson in some revealing clothing, Getting In is a waste of time for its viewers, its cast, and certainly its director. While it may have helped certain folks get in to the film industry, we advise that you not let it get in to your wallet.