Sunday, September 07, 2008
Directed by Derrick Comedy, United States, 2006. 3:36
Derrick Comedy is a New York based group of professional comedians Dominic Dierkes, Donald Glober, and DC Pierson, and filmmakers Dan Eckman and Meggie McFadden. They have produced 38 short films and are currently working on their first full length feature. Their 2006 short Daughters is about Special Agent Tom Rogers and his quest to save all his daughters.
The film is a send up of suspense thrillers with convoluted plots. It starts out normally: a special agent is reunited with his kidnapped daughter, but his job is not over yet as he must still defeat the terrorists who plan to bomb New York City. However, just as he makes a plan with his fellow agent, he receives a phone call telling him that the terrorists have his...other daughter. From there, Rogers unveils the complicated web of thousands of daughters he has planted all over the world.
The first thing that impressed me about this short film is its smart writing. It's well thought out and tight. It builds from a simple cliche plot into pure comic confusion. There are lots of clever lines along the way.
"That was my wife."
"She has my daughter."
"Terrorists have my wife!"
Rogers even reveals that his partner is his daughter.
"I can't shoot you. You're my daugther."
"I'm older than you."
"I was in a mission that involved time travel."
"I'm a man."
"The mission went horribly wrong.
And the film comes to a quick finish with Rogers' revelation of why he has so many daughters.
The film creatively uses non-diegetic music to build a pattern. Whenever Rogers explains the current situation, there is a grand, high energy score. However, when he reveals he has another daughter, the music becomes slow and dramatic. The film switches off between the two styles frequently, using the abruptness of the switches along with their repetition to create humor.
Shot-wise, the film perfectly apes the style of spy thrillers. There are frequent cuts and dramatic zooms. At the emotional moments, close ups are used. If you watch the film on mute, you would not know the film is a goofy send up. At a couple of points, the screen breaks in half with one square depicting one part of the action and the other square depicting another part. Films usually only show action from one angle, which is a challenge for most directors as they must decide what is the best possible angle for every single line of dialogue.
The film also utilizes the classic comedy duo: the clown and the straight man. Rogers' partner is confused and becomes riled up over the ludicrousness of Rogers and his revelations of multiple daughters. One character is the joke and the other is the sane, reality-bound reaction to the joke.
The film is like a lot of other short films: it's expresses only one idea. It is not something that could become a feature length. It's an idea that is best shown in one 5 minute short and would not fit well in another medium. It is smart, entertaining, and to the point, making it a great short film.