Tribeca: Bart Got A Room Reviewed
Making an original comedy that revolves around a high school prom is just about impossible at this point, but Brian Hecker is giving it a pretty good shot with Bart Got a Room, his feature debut as a writer and director. Set in the Florida retirement community in which he, for whatever reason, grew up, Bart is a semi-autobiographical comedy about a gawky, Jewish teenager's attempts to find a prom date while dealing with his parents' divorce. Hecker scored an amazing cast, particularly for a first-timer, all of whom help make this sweet coming-of-age story a winner.
Steven Kaplan plays Danny Stein, a trumpet player, prom committee planner, student government representative and all-around decent kid. He knows his friend since childhood, Camille (Alia Shawkat, of Arrested Development fame), want to go to prom with him as friends, but being a teenager he's convinced he can do better. First there's the sophomore he drives home from school (Ashley Benson), then the girl in English class who likes his poem, or even a random girl from another school whom his horndog friend Craig (Brandon Hardesty) sets him up with.
As if that weren't enough trouble, Danny's parents (William H. Macy and Cheryl Hines) are starting to date other people following their recent divorce, and both probably involve Danny in their dating lives more than they should. Mom's boyfriend has his eye on becoming a new father figure, while dad is reverting back to his post-college ways with his sparse bachelor pad and skewed ideas about how to date.
At 80 minutes, Bart never has time to wear out its story that's pretty familiar-- boy goes looking for a girl when the one he needs is right under his nose. And with a pretty small amount of sex jokes, the movie is less of a sex comedy than a relationship comedy, which is remarkably sweet and surprising to see in a movie about high schoolers. This is Steven Kaplan's first movie but surely won't be his last, since Michael Cera can't corner the market on stuttering awkwardness forever. And since Hecker is so capable of directing this big cast on his first outing, this likely won't be the last we hear from him either. Bart may be more a calling card of a movie than an auspicious debut, but it's still a great example of an indie comedy done without excessive pretension or quirk.
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