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The Watermelon (2008)

1 rating: 5.0
A movie directed by Brad Mays

Newly divorced and 30 something, Achilles Pumpkinseed spends his days alone, smoking pot and watching TV. One day, an unexpected visitor appears at his home with an old dilapidated camping trailer that is painted like a watermelon. He insists that the … see full wiki

Tags: Movies
Director: Brad Mays
1 review about The Watermelon (2008)

Quirky Independent Film = Love at first sight or Hatred

  • Sep 22, 2009
Quirky Independent film is usually a risk, the very quirkiness that some love will make others run and hide. I think The Watermelon is a movie that is either love at first sight or hatred. I thought the movie was refreshing, and different in a good way. It reminded me of a low low budget version of the television series Pushing Daisies (Pushing Daisies - The Complete First Season because of the deadpan acting and odd dialog.

The film centers on Achilles Pumpkinseed, a lonely man that lives in a very nice house in a nice neighborhood. He is divorced, the house was left to him by his mother, and he owns a chocolate / candy store. His slacker buddy Patroclus, adorned with his fanny pack protecting his privates, visits frequently to share an herbal cigarette and watch porn. Achilles is resigned to his life of not doing much, being mundane, and only occasionally opening up his store. Life changes when his step father leaves him a trailer that sort of looks like a watermelon, (you really have to squint to see the resemblence, it is red and green with black seeds).

The film is not without flaws. The director or producer cast this film with mostly theater actors (described in the DVD bonus making of featurette). For some characters that worked well, Achilles is dry on purpose, his ganja smoking buddy is well cast. The ex-wife, the crazy woman with white and purple hair, and the artist all over act so horribly it is almost painful. The screenwriter admits in that he wrote this film so that it could be filmed very cheaply. So the story is designed around very few shooting locations; read almost a theatrical play. There are a ton of continuity errors, strange cuts that jump back a few seconds in time, and the camera work is simple and straightforward, nothing avant garde going on there. The appearance of Achilles dead mother was kind of hokey, I almost expect some angelic music for each appearance (gratefully that did not happen). The choice of character names was a bit over the top stupid in my view (Achilles, Persephone, Homer, Creon, Thanatos, and Patroclus). If you understood the reason for those names, it was funny for 2 seconds and then just got old.

Even with these flaws, I still enjoyed this movie. There was something about the story, Achilles and Persephone, that hooked me right away and kept my attention. The music is actually very good, fits the tone of the film very well. There was a sparesness to the sets and an odd atmosphere to each scene. It felt good to see Achilles smile, I wanted him to be happy. In a nutshell, I cared for Achilles and Persephone. The voice over narration was strange at first, but grew on me after about 10 minutes, and then there was a big payoff midway in the film. The opening scene of Creon peeing from the trailer was funny.

The film is not rated. My best guess, it would be R rated by the MPAA. The drug use and nudity would have put it over the top easily. Neither the drug use or nudity are gratuitious. There's a wonderful contrast between the video sex that Achilles watches with absolutely no emotion and the moment where Persephone drops her towel in front of Achilles with him looking for a few seconds and then turns away. This is a significant turning point in the film, all very necessary. I did find one scene that was repeated three times that didn't really fit the film and was gratuitous; Persephone does something with a gun and her mouth. There isn't much strong language, or any that I remember. There is a bit of violence, Achilles remembers his step-father and mother fighting; and there's shooting at the end of the film.

The film is 90 minutes long, just about right. The DVD includes a better than most, making of featurette. If you are so inclined there are some nuggets revealed about the film. There is an alternate audio track with the director, producer, and two of the actors.

Overall, a quirky film that will elicit either love or hate, no middle ground for this film.

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