animaldoctor’s review published on Letterboxd:
For those of you who don't know, I'm part of a Film Club on Discord that I joined through Letterboxd. If you're interested in joining or learning more about what the film club is about, then go to this link: letterboxd.com/gaboreilly/list/film-club/. For those of you reading this that are already in the film club, I apologize that I haven't been on NEARLY as much as I used to be. In fact, I've barely talked on there in the past month. School has started up for me again and I no longer have much free time. I'm trying to come on and talk to you guys with the spare time I have, but my brain is focused on so much other stuff. I swear I will come back, I swear!!
Anyway, why am I bringing this film club up? Well, because one of the members of the club recommended this short film to another and posted a link in the chat. I decided to click on it to see if it was a trailer or an actual full film. Thankfully, it was the latter and I was curious to check it out, especially once I realized it was directed by the one and only Danny DeVito. Now that I have, I am thouroughly glad that I did. Curmudgeons is an incredibly charming little film that tackles a story I honestly wasn't expecting and just puts a smile on your face when you watch it.
Easily the best aspect of this short is the dialogue. It feels incredibly natural, and Joshua Conkel's script is masterful at working in expositional dialogue and making it feel like a natural conversation, not just lines of dialogue that feel like they're there specifically to tell the audience something. The delivery of said dialogue is also great with universally great performances, although Danny DeVito naturally steals the show as Jackie. The chemistry between him and David Marguiles' Ralph is astounding, and you truly feel an intimate connection between the two characters. The character interactions are fun to watch, the dialogue is witty, and the short has some really great emotional arcs that I didn't see coming at all. I have a pretty good feeling that the ending of the short will at least put a smile on your face, and if it doesn't... well, I don't really know what to say to that, to be honest.
If I had to look for flaws, I would say that for some reason, the dialogue in the opening three or four minutes of this film feels like it was dubbed in post. I don't know why, but something about the way the dialogue sounds and the fact that it doesn't quite feel like it lines up with the actors' mouths just threw me off for a little bit. I also feel at times that Ralph can sometimes be a little TOO rude. I get the point of his character (and the film) is that he is an old curmudgeon that says what he wants to say, but at times I felt it went just a little bit too far. Part of that might have to do with the pacing of this film, too. I'll be honest, this short could have benefitted from another 5, 10, maybe even 15 minutes. There are times where character interactions and connections do end up feeling a bit rushed, and I feel like the film could have benefitted from a slightly longer runtime.
All that being said, this film is a truly great treat for those of you who love Danny DeVito and just want to watch a quick, feel-good short film. It's got great performances and dialogue overall even if the pacing and character moments do sometimes falter, but I think this proves without a shadow of a doubt that Danny DeVito knows what he's doing behind the camera just as well as he does in front of it. Frankly, the ending of this short is so satisfying that I would actually probably give it the lightest of 4.5s. It's so light that it doesn't count, but it's SOOO close. If you want to see the short, go to vimeo.com/159449591 and see what you think.
Letter Grade: A-