Thursday, December 12, 2019

Steak Break The Movie Review

Tampa comic John Jacobs is a genius.

Tampa comic John Jacobs wasted his time.

Neither of these statements may be true. Both of these statements might be true.

This dichotomy is the essence of Jacobs's new movie, Steak Break. On its surface, the movie is about a performer testing his abilities in an entertainment district and hoping to raise enough money in passerby contributions to buy a steak at a local restaurant.

But the movie and Jacobs's purpose is far deeper. Between clips of Jacobs telling jokes, dancing, singing, dribbling a basketball, and attempting skateboard tricks is an inner dialogue Jacobs has with himself, questioning the purpose of the endeavor. Is he really there to raise money for dinner? Or is he trying to test the limits of his skills by performing for hours on a street corner? Or is he trying to better understand the psyche of his audience and what they will pay for? How much is performance art really worth?

Although the movie never mentions how long Jacobs performed on the streets of Ybor City, we can assume from the background that he was there for at least 8 hours. He starts in the middle of the day as passerbys are either tourists or people on their way to or from work, many of whom can't be bothered by the guy singing on a corner. By the end of the movie, he is engaging with barflies and club goers, some of whom take over his role with their own antics.

Somewhere in between - I believe it was near or after 8pm - I crossed path with Jacobs while on my way back from dinner. By then, he was joined by fellow local comic Clark Brooks. My interaction with Jacobs and Brooks is in the movie at the 42:00 mark.

Jacobs engages with many interesting characters, from a lady in a wheelchair who says he is great, to a freestyle rapper, to a young couple who got engaged moments earlier. By the end of the movie, their stories and interactions become almost as much of a story as Jacob's quest to earn money for food.

Following his interactions with Ybor City's nightlife, Jacobs finally calls it a night. He then checks his hat to see how much he received for his hours of performing. Did he make money, and if so, was it enough for a steak? If he did make enough money, did the buy the steak?

Was the endeavor worth the trouble?

Steak Break The Movie is a film about a quest. A quest to make money, a quest to test the limits of human performance, and lastly, a quest to determine the value of art. For these, Jacobs doesn't have to be good. He just has to endure.

Watching Steak Break, I wondered how the movie would have progressed if one passerby dropped a $100 bill into Jacobs's hat in the first hour. With $100 Jacobs could have bought multiple steaks. Had this happened Steak Break would not have been as interesting. Without the struggle, Steak Break probably would have been boring.

And while he may or may not be a genius, John Jacobs is anything but boring.

Watch Steak Break The Movie below:

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