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Monday, June 8, 2015

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: "Please Punish Me" Takes Aim At Injustice

"PLEASE PUNISH ME" (2015)
Genre: Comedy
Length- 15:29
Company: Macremi Productions

Scottie Lee (David Sackal) is one of those people who never has to work for anything.  The less hard he tries to impress his boss (Brad Rhodes), the higher on the company ladder he (accidentally) climbs.  His latest promotion is the last straw.

He learns from a co-worker (Talli Clemons) that a place called the Punish Me Palace routinely helps people like Scottie feel a little less guilty for their good fortune.

All it takes is a phone call . . .

THE PROBLEMS OF BEING AWESOME

"Please Punish Me" is a short film that tries its best to wrangle as many laughs out of its central conceit -- that things are inherently unfair, and the concept of justice stretches only as far as the heart of the individual claiming it.

It doesn't sound very funny, but director Chris Esper and writer Rich Camp's script (based on a story by Tom Paolino) manage to find a surprising amount of mirth.  It's an amusing movie, but the story doesn't flow particularly well from joke to joke -- in other words, the experience of watching the onscreen events feels more like checking out a funny bullet point list than anything else.

Even as the majority of the story wavers, the conclusion was pitch perfect -- it's slightly ambiguous, but enough of an emotional payoff that it's not necessary to have every loose end tidied.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3 / 5.  The majority of the story exists to get from admittedly funny Joke A to equally amusing Joke B, but the finale pays off extremely well.
Directing: 3 / 5.  Esper's visuals are effective, if a bit predictable.  The locations are for the most part small rooms, which make most of the cutting between shots of dialogue feel claustrophobic.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Felipe Jorge cuts the film together like a pro.  Chad Kaplan is responsible for the fun, shuddery text of the opening sequence -- it captures the tone of the film perfectly.
Sound/Music: 2.5 / 5.   The volume levels are high enough, but there is a distracting echo on the actors' speech at certain medium angles that isn't there during close shots filmed in the same location.  The music, by Steven Lanning-Cafaro, is playful throughout, even when he's going for over-the-top scary.  I enjoyed it.
Acting: 3.5 / 5.  Sackal's performance makes this film what it is.  Joanna Donofrio plays Michelle -- a first timer at her job (I can't say much more without spoiling the joke) and quite funny in her role.  Also, love the accent.  Brad Rhodes makes me think of a younger John Astin.  His character is unbelievable at best, but he puts on enough goofy to sell his lines.  The remainder of the cast does well also.

Final Grade:  3.2 / 5

Don't forget to check out "Please Punish Me" when it hits the Internet!  Until then, check out the official trailer on Vimeo and follow the creators 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!