In an effort to create an alternative entertainment ecosystem to Hollywood, Blaze TV has has made a foray into feature films. It’s first film is Re-Opening a mockumentary satirizing Branch Covidianism in the setting of a small community theater.
Re-Opening is an interesting film to categorize. The mockumentary lends comparison to This Is Spinal Tap, the 1984 mockumentary film. The mockumentary remains popular due to the lasting success of The Office and Parks and Rec which merit comparisons due to inspiration. On the other hand the low budget, small concept nature of this film invites a comparison to Coffeetown, a comedy about a small town coffee shop.
The central flaw in Re-Opening is actually the reason that it was made and subsequently distributed by Blaze TV in the first place. The comedy surrounding Covid just simply does not land, yet this was central to the movie’s plot and premise. Whereas the trailer depicts much of the mockery to CDC guidelines, in the actual film these scenes tend to drag.
Typical of a mockumentary, the films best humor comes from its zany characters. Yet the quirks of these characters were not exploited to anywhere near the full extent.
For instance, one of the female leads at the theater was a single mom who resented being a mother and used trivial theater roles as a means of fulfillment. These misplaced priorities should have been more of a source of comedy in the film.
Additionally, a method actor in the film met the main character, Roger Bastion, while he was in character, and was too afraid to break character to be himself. In other words this is the closest I’ve scene a movie approach Robert Downey Jr. famous line “I’m a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude.” Yet, this character was underutilized by the script.
One character that I believe was well utilized was a character named Thom Cruise, a playwright and Roger Bastion’s best friend. Roger Bastion, played by the writer/co-director Chris Guerra was hit or miss depending on the given scene.
As for the humor of this film, as previously mentioned that Covid humor generally falls flat. At few points did this film ever feel immersive into the 2020 experience of forced masking, as the actors used face shields in lieu of cloth masks so that the viewers could see their faces. Additionally, Covid humor is hardly brave or original in 2023, and this film failed to prove otherwise.
The laughs to be found in this movie actually come from its lampooning of theater culture using its zany characters. Put bluntly the same core characters in a story of a struggling small town theater would have made a much better film than trying to capitalize off of Covid.
Whereas The Office is extremely small concept, Re-Opening pairs small concept with world events in a way that’s gimmicky. Netflix has done this on numerous occasions like Space Force and more recently Blockbuster yet these sitcoms are genuine disappointments. Re-Opening felt the same way.
The Office focused used wildly politically incorrect episodes like “Diversity Day” and “Basketball” whilst it figured out its characters in the later seasons. Re-Opening similarly had some character kinks to work out, but its humor in the meantime was rather tame.
Blaze Media should be commended for funding and distributing feature films. Low budget comedy films are the exact thing that a conservative media company should be investing in too. Yet Re-Opening doesn’t deliver on the entertainment value. The opportunity cost is too high to justify watching it or recommending others do so.
I give this movie 4/10.
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