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Inside Out: Valley of the Chapstick


Torontonian Robert Kennedy is my new favourite short filmmaker. Amazing how I can be won over in a mere 8 minutes.

Valley of the Chapstick, spoofs campy classic Valley of the Dolls. It tells the sad story of Stevie (played by a cheeky Ryan English, who also co-wrote the screenplay and did the music), an eager young temp who leaves Missassauga for the Big Smoke.

One day, Stevie's lips get chapped stuffing envelopes, and his lawyer boss, Mr. Bellamy (Martin McNenly) hooks him up with some Chapstick. Alas, that is the beginning of the end - soon Stevie can't stop, he is, yes, addicted to Chapstick. And addiction is a cruel, cruel thing.

It's positively delightful to see a spoof done well. Kennedy chooses every stylistic element carefully, matching the tone of the script; the visuals, the style of acting, dialogue and sound are all cheesily fantastic.

Shot on super8, Kennedy makes the most of the grainy stock and has some really great camera work, sun flares, dramatic lighting (where appropriate) - and all referencing the film he's mocking, of course.

He has English in a fantastically bad wig, performing sufficiently over the top while keeping the tone consistent. English makes good use of his expressive face, and plays the eager keener turned stumbling addict with just the right amount of exaggeration. Brooke Gagne plays his sister Amy with a wide-eyed sincerity, and McNenly's portrayal of the lawyer Mr. Bellamy would make the folks on L.A. Law proud. Kennedy cameos as a mental patient who goes nuts over a game of Scrabble.

The sound design is not neglected, either. Dialogue is mainly Stevie's voice over and the rest is dubbed, and the ambient sound is done the same way - typing, birds chirping - all deliberately silly done very well, which of course reinforces the style of the piece.

Hilarity ensues.

Valley of the Chapstick screens tomorrow at 7:45pm as part of the Fun in Guys Shorts program at Inside Out. (If you can't make it, check it out at the Worldwide Short Film Festival in mid-June).


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