Directed By: James Westby
Starring: Melik Malkasian, Ritah Parrish, John Breen
Tag line: "His Knowledge is your misery"
Trivia: This is a semi-autobiographical piece on writer/director James Westby's life
Written and directed by James Westby, Film Geek is a humorous look at one man’s undying obsession with the cinema, and while its main character is, in many ways, a stereotype (and an annoying one to boot), the movie isn’t without its charms.
Scotty Pelk (Melik Malkasian) is a film geek. Aside from running his own movie-related website (www.scottysfilmpage.com), he works as a clerk for a Portland-based video rental store, where he bothers the customers with his incessant rambling (along with spouting off useless trivia, Scotty makes movie recommendations to everyone who walks through the door, whether they want them or not). Things have gotten so bad that his boss, Mr. Johnson (John Breen), has no alternative but to fire Scotty. With zero interests outside of movies, Scotty has a hard time adjusting to life in the real world. Then, one day, he spots a pretty girl sitting across from him on the bus, who, as luck would have it, is reading a book about David Cronenberg! The girl, whose name is Niko (Tyler Gannon), is a struggling artist, and after a brief conversation she invites Scotty to a showing of her work. Before long, Scotty is head-over-heels in love with Niko, but will his aggressive pursuit of her lead to romance, or will he end up pushing her away?
From the moment he first appears on-screen, rattling off a list of movies with the word “heaven” in the title (and doing so from memory), it’s clear that Scotty Pelk is going to be an over-the-top representation of a film geek. In fact, many of the scenes featuring Scotty at the video store are a bit much; while restocking the shelves, he overhears a couple of teenage girls (Daphne Carver and Kristen Torrianni) criticizing Memento for being “too confusing”. Scotty uses the opportunity to quote Jean-Luc Godard (“A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order”), then is annoyed when the girls act like they’ve never heard of Godard (which, of course, they haven’t). Malkasian’s performance doesn’t help matters, what with his nasally voice and obsessive personality (the later scenes where Scotty is pestering Niko with a series of phone calls are cringe-inducing). I’m not saying there aren’t film fans out there who think and act as Scotty does; on the contrary, the documentary Cinemania proved that there are. But at the same time, the majority of movie nuts have managed to find their place in the real world, and it would have been nice if Scotty was more representative of them.
OK… now that I got that off my chest, back to Film Geek.
Even with his exaggerated mannerisms, Scotty becomes something of a lovable loser as the story progresses, and Malkasian does let genuine emotion slip through from time to time (like the scene where he tells Niko why he loves movies). In addition, director Westby tosses in a few things for the film buffs in the audience (we’re occasionally treated to one of Scotty’s favorite movie lists; after his first meeting with Niko on the bus, we learn what his Top 5 David Cronenberg films are).
This, combined with a few funny moments and a clever twist ending, helps neutralize the movie’s more irritating qualities, making Film Geek a fun, if sometimes frustrating, experience.