I have a confession.
Early in writer/director Kyle Eaton's cinematic debut Shut Up Anthony, I couldn't help but listen to Anthony (Robert A. D'Esposito) and think over and over again of Paul Marcarelli, better known to America as the "Can you hear me now?" guy from the Verizon Wireless commercials who only recently slipped on over to the dark side and now represents Sprint.
I'm serious. Over and over and over again, Anthony would speak and I would hear in my head "Can you hear me now?"
Now then, I picture Eaton cringing as he reads this thinking "Boy, that sounds like a distraction from this film I worked really hard on."
Eh, possibly true. The truth is it made a funny film funnier and an interesting character even more interesting. Truthfully? As soon as the film was over, I actually looked up the credits to see if Anthony WAS, in fact, the Verizon Wireless turned Sprint guy.
Anthony is a character all unto himself, an overly talkative neurotic creative grinding away at his Portland ad firm until over the course of a few days he loses his girlfriend, his job and, well, his dignity. With nothing else to do, Anthony heads for a family timeshare where he encounters Tim (Jon Titterington), an estranged family friend and alcoholic theology professor with whom he clashes on everything from relationships to religion, vodka to coaster etiquette.
Shut Up Anthony had its world premiere at Cinequest Film Festival and is now getting set for its full-on festival run, a run for which Eaton has high hopes that the film's funny, inspired and entertaining story will catch on with festival organizers and moviegoing audiences. The film is scheduled to have its New York and L.A. premieres in June at festivals to be announced, a solid sign that Shut Up Anthony is all geared up for a lengthy festival run.
As Anthony, D'Esposito is absolutely terrific. Especially early on, he's obnoxiously talkative, and as an introvert myself that doesn't actually take much, but he never crosses that line into so completely obnoxious that we want to completely keep watching him. He's that one friend we all have. If you don't know that friend, then you probably are that friend. D'Esposito's rapport with Katie Michels, as Sam, early in the film is hilariously awesome and uncomfortable with Michels, as well, playing it all off quite perfectly.
Jon Titterington's Tim proves to be the perfect foil of sorts for Anthony, their every genetic cell seemingly at odds with one another. To call them an odd couple would be wildlly understating their differences yet, in the midst of it all, both D'Esposito and Titterington make something pretty special unfold here with humor, intelligence and a healthy foundation of harsh life realities.
Shut Up Anthony benefits greatly from the original music of Mark Norton, whom you may recognize from his work on Alexander Payne's Nebraska or the underrated Drunktown's Finest. Orton's music isn't so much a musical accompaniment here as it is a subtle background character with a presence so sublimely perfect that one hears it long after leaving the theater.
With a small ensemble cast that seems to completely understand what Eaton is going for here, Shut Up Anthony catches a terrific vibe early on and never loses it. The end result is a film that should easily find a home on the indie fest circuit and marks a terrific debut from Kyle Eaton. If it arrives at a festival near you, definitely give it a watch.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic