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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Dan Rosen's Sci-Fi Short "Joe & Mary's Kid" Turns a Robotic Eye On Parenthood

"JOE & MARY'S KID" (2014)
Genre: Sci-Fi
Length- 14:37
Company:  N/A
Website:  Official Facebook

In a future not so distant from our own, Joe (Geraint Hill) and Mary (Marley Hamilton) attempt to get approved for adopting a child after their own attempts at making a baby have failed.  But when a form rejection letter comes to the house, Joe refuses to take it lying down.

He's got some spare parts and a whole lot of metal in his basement, and quite literally begins to build new life with his bare hands.

NUTS AND BOLTS

In a sci-fi film, there's always some question as to whether or not what you see on screen is technically possible.  If it's not, then what you're watching is really fantasy, because it requires some kind of supernatural intervention to work.  For instance, Star Wars is a fantasy because it has at its core the concept of The Force, which is basically magic, when you get right down to it.

Now take "Joe & Mary's Kid".  It's unlikely that a man could today, on his own, build a robot that could not only approximate human movement but also communicate with a pretty wide ranging vocabulary.  But who knows what will be possible over the next twenty or thirty years?

The robot itself looks great and, while obviously low budget it works because whatever Joe could put together would not look shiny and pristine.  Writer/director Dan Rosen and crew did a great job at making it look real, but low tech.

A FAMILY FEUD

The story unfolds at just the right pace.  We see the frustration of the young family's inability to have children immediately, and then it's on to Joe's single minded and borderline lunatic dedication to building himself a son.

Mary humors his efforts, and she clearly sees how crazy he is to be doing this, but she supports him anyway.  Now that's love, right there.

But even her patience wears thin as the robot becomes harder and harder to maintain.

The conclusion doesn't pay off or resolve that conflict.  I would have thought there would have been a huge collision between Joe and Mary -- we see what he wants, he wants a son, but what does she want?  Deep down, what is having a child going to fulfill within her?  We never get her side of the story which is interesting because she has the bulk of screen time, and she's hardly passive.  She does something which I would have thought would warrant at least a brief blow up, but nothing ever comes of it.

CONCLUSION

It's clear Rosen likes these characters because he treats them with so much respect.  It feels however that he is maybe too concerned with their feelings -- he never brings the central conflict into the light of day so that both parents can say what needs to be said.

Because of that, the finale is a bit of a letdown.  Even so, as a whole, "Joe & Mary's Kid" is a thoughtful and amusing sci-fi flick with heart and I very much recommend checking it out!

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing:  3.5 / 5.  Dan Rosen's characters feel like real people, full of eccentricities and differences.  The plot is also intriguing, but that ending bothered me.
Directing: 4 / 5.   Rosen delivers plenty of visual movement, but he also knows when a still shot will pay off more than any amount of handheld nonsense.   Loved the tight close-ups during Joe's breakdown and the awkward moment when the robot trudges past Mary in the hallway.
Editing: 5 / 5.  The film goes off without a hitch thanks to top notch editing from Vera Simmonds.  All the transitions sync properly and Fabio-Miguel Campos' image coloring is gorgeous and lends the film a theatrical feel.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  Neo Peterson's sound design is good and the volumes are level.  The music, by composer David Pearce, is playful courtesy of its teetering cadence and Casio-keyboard-meets-auto-shop sound.
Acting: 4 / 5.  The film is very well acted from start to finish, with particular nods going to our leads.  Hill and Hamilton have a great chemistry together, and even at his nuttiest you get the impression that Joe is a good person caught at a bad moment.   The robot is played by Jem Demirel, whose monotone delivery is just what the director ordered.  Mark Drake and Emmy Sainsbury do what they need to do.

Final Grade: 3.9 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Joe & Mary's Kid" on Vimeo and follow the film's release on Facebook!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!