C.J. Moebius, Mike Ryan, Jennifer Bartels, Andree Vermuelen
John Launchi, Mike Ryan
Winner of the Best Comedy Feature at the 2010 Garden State Film Festival along with several other festival prizes already, Laid Off follows two best friends, Mike (C.J. Moebius) and Jimmy (script co-writer Michael Ryan), who find themselves laid off from their mundane corporate desk jobs and decide to use their severance packages fund one final summer vacation
What starts out as a summer of constant partying soon serves to remind the pair that everything comes at a price.
Laid Off is a great example of the sort of independent film that can be produced when an ensemble cast and crew, committed as much to the craft as the cash, blend their talents together and make it happen. Filmed on a modest $3,000 budget, Laid Off has the look and feel of a film with a significantly higher budget and its success, including an invite to the Cannes Independent Film Festival, is no surprise.
The film succeeds largely on the strength of a subtle yet funny script by director John Launch and the film's co-star Michael Ryan, along with the natural, comfortable chemistry of Ryan with the film's lead, C.J. Moebius. The ensemble nature of the project is evidenced by perusing the film's credits, in which Launchi is mentioned no less than six times, Ryan three (plus a Justin Ryan!) and multiple other crew members work on a variety of tasks ranging from brief appearances in the film to camera work, production design and virtually every task.
In short, Laid Off is clearly a team effort and it shows.
Moebius is particularly convincing as Mike, a young man who is stuck between not wanting to lose touch with his less responsible years and a growing awareness that life around him is changing and, perhaps, he truly needs to change right along with it. Ryan's Jimmy is the zanier of the two, and working together by Moebius and Ryan complement each other quite nicely.
The camera work, credited to the trio of Launchi, Shawn Rogers and Justin Ryan, is surprisingly solid for such a low-budget flick, a tribute to Launchi for recognizing his tech limitations and creating a film that nicely works with them. While most low-budget indies of this nature struggle with the occasional blurry shots, Laid Off is only occasionally plagued by sound mix issues on a couple of occasions. The original music by Josh Gannet works nicely, a fine companion to the comedic yet serious emotional journey of our two leading men.
You'd be hard pressed to find any writer, director, actor or crew who wouldn't love to have a large budget for their film, but it's films like Laid Off that serve as a reminder that as important as budget may be, a talented cast and crew are the most important ingredients of all.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic