Kisses and Caroms Review
By Christopher Null
Give Vincent Rocca points for chutzpah. With no real filmmaking experience (his background is in running a billiards store), Rocca shot a feature film on video in five days, and recruited both a Playboy Playmate (Nicole Rayburn) and a porn star (Ginger Lynn Allen) to appear in it.
As for the movie he made, well, it's the kind of thing you'd shoot on video over five days, a "day in the life" story that revolves around the nutty characters populating -- you guessed it -- a billiards shop (standing in for a coffee shop, a bar, a convenience store, and a college dorm). The central plot revolves around Zack (Drew Wicks) and his love life. As the film opens, his girlfriend (Nikki Stanzione) is sneaking out of the morning after an ill-advised threesome (her idea). Later that day, all the bad feelings that come with such an activity come to light, along with the kind of crazy things that typically happen at your average billiards shop: A naked guy comes in, two different customers try to seduce delivery guys, and a shotgun-wielding therapist storms in. You know, ordinary day on the job.
The film is a not-too-subtle homage to Clerks, and it even goes so far as to directly kiss Smith's ass viz a viz a character that appears in trenchcoat and ball cap called "Silent Bobette." Well, Smith got his start somewhere, and though Kisses and Caroms never had me laughing out loud, it did at least make me chuckle once or twice. On the inside.
Rocca's got talent as a director, doing generally top-notch work within the severe confines of the video camera. But his screenwriting, as many first-timers later discover, still isn't quite there yet. And coaxing solid comedy performances from undiscovered actors isn't nearly as easy as it sounds. Consider even how stilted Clerks sounds today, thanks to the inexperience of its leads. Caroms has the same problem -- and had the jokes been punched up threefold, we might have been sitting on another stellar little indie comedy.
As it is, Caroms will probably find a small but seriously devoted audience among fans of Rayburn, Allen, and ESPN2.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Tuesday 22nd August 2006
Distributed by: Poverty Works
Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Fresh: 2 Rotten: 3
Cast & Crew
Starring: Nicole Rayburn as Tara, Drew Wicks as Zack, Nikki Stanzione as Jennifer, Ryan Parks as David, Bart Shattuck as Dr. Bob Johnson, Keith Alexander as Eddie, Patty Souza as Mrs. Johnson, Vincent Rocca as Bob 2 / Pool Table Shopper, Michael Hutchinson as Bob 1 / Chalk Guy, Jay Beeber as Billiard Fanatic / Answering Machine Guy, Robert Vincenti as Steve, Tom Ayers as Unemployed Guy, Keith Beaton as Naked White Guy, Steven Rocca as BMX'er Kid