My long-time interest in the "Who Shot Mamba?" project and similarly long correspondence with screenwriter Brian Spaeth has definitely raised my interest in independent films and supporting those who make them. So it was with great interest that I attended the Gasparilla Film Festival Saturday night to see a movie highly recommended by Tampa social media maven Julia Gorzka entitled "Let's Rob the Cheese Shop".
Written and directed by New Orleans filmmaker Sean Gerowin, "Let's Rob the Cheese Shop" is the story of three college students and their foolproof plan to take mad cheddar from a local muenster merchant.
Along the way, however, things don't go exactly as planned.
The movie starts by introducing us to college buddies Alex and Vance. Alex is the square, buttoned-up nice guy and Vance is the outgoing, slackerific ladies man, albeit with a bit of a drug problem. To be honest, Vance reminded me of a cross between Jay from the Kevin Smith movies and Jim Morrison of The Doors. He also reminded me of a few friends I've had through the years - minus the coke habit.
Like most college students, Alex, Vance, and their friend Daphne are broke. Apparently between the three of them, they have just enough money to buy Bonnaroo tickets. Unfortunately, only one of them has a job. So, again like most college students, they start brainstorming on how to make some quick cash. Although they first consider robbing a bank, the idea is quickly tossed aside for a more practical notion: to rob Daphne's workplace - the local cheese shop.
(I totally related to this scene. Longtime fans of my work may remember when I came up with the idea to liberate Rhode Island because, of course, it's not an island. Then there was the time my roommate and I called the campus police department to ask if we could throw a non-alcoholic beer keg party in the dorms. Must be something about college that fries the brain.)
With everyone finally on board, the three friends begin to calculate and contemplate, hypothesize and strategize, and dream and scheme how to make the plan a success. Of course, they don't consider what would happen if they got busted, or if Daphne lost her job (which she is shown to be not very good at, by the way), but such is the innocence of youth.
Speaking of innocence (or lack thereof), while the friends are contriving their nefarious plot, we learn that Vance and Daphne used to be lovers and now Alex has a crush on Daphne. This sets off a continuous backstory of love, lust, and why girls don't like "nice guys".
(Of course, this is totally true. In no real universe could two guys and a girl just be friends; someone has to be involved with someone else. It's nature's law. By the way, for a great read on "Nice Guy Syndrome", check out this post: Why "Nice Guys" Are Often Such Losers, it's a phenomenal read.)
Slowly but surely the scheme starts to disintegrate. Some people get cold feet, some people start thinking with their heart instead of their brain, and still others choke down handfuls of random pills, making them completely useless as a potential accomplice.
Before the plan goes completely up in smoke, however, Vance meets the woman of his dreams. And she is not the kind of woman to keep him on the straight and narrow either. Quite the opposite. She is the cowgirl from Hades and just the inspiration Vance needs to dust off the friends' scheme and attempt to be Clyde to his new love's Bonnie.
Will he succeed? Will the cheese shop be robbed? Will Alex get lucky?
For the answer, you have to see the movie.
Overall, I really enjoyed "Let's Rob the Cheese Shop". It's a fun movie that definitely brought back memories of wild and crazy college days. There is no doubt "Let's Rob the Cheese Shop" lives up to its claim of containing "a fair amount of Sex, Drugs, & Cheese". It was definitely funny, although some of the humor was very subtle - like when Alex attempts to get close to Daphne and she repeatedly slides away. Finally, as the movie was filmed in New Orleans, there is plenty of good music and, of course, lots of drinking.
(Coincidentally, I spent most of my day prior to going to the film festival converting hours of my own drunken escapades from VHS to DVD. So by the end of the night, while the rest of the audience shockingly watched Vance drink his life away, I felt like I was right there with him. Minus the coke habit, of course.)
For another review of a Gasparilla International Film Festival flick, check out Tampa Film Fan's write-up of the stoner horror movie "Trippin'".