Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Standing Ovation at the Beverly

Last weekend I attended a midnight showing of this year's "Standing Ovation" at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Although I had been told ahead of time what a real treat I was in for, nothing could have prepared me for the evening I was about endure. A evening where the New Bev crowd was pushed to dance, sing and most of all dream. Take a look at my breakdown of the evening below...

Upon entry each attendee was given a "Standing Ovation" wristband along with a sing-along booklet. Men were given a blue wristbands while the ladies were given pink wristbands (kinda wanted the pink one, guess I should've asked). The sing-along booklet featured the lyrics to all 20 songs throughout the 105 minute musical along with some wonderful pictures of the cast. Co-producer Jennifer Tini and post production coordinator Monique Impagliazzo were on site for a Q&A that would follow the film along with a whole bunch of tubular merchandise to purchase.

As the audience settled into our seats the New Beverly Cinema's Phil Blankenship introduced the film. Phil is actually the number one reason myself (and I'm sure a number of others in the audience) were even present at the midnight screening. Phil saw the movie during its sole week in release and has since continued to exclaim how mind blowing Standing Ovation is. Before starting the film, Phil once again professed his love for the musical and how he knew we would all walk away changed.

Phil was right! "Standing Ovation" was nothing of what I expected. Sure, I watched the trailer and knew I was in for a cooky preteen musical, but never expected to walk away so infatuated. What is so boggling about this film is the fact you actually can't imagine what will happen next. Now I'm not talking about the overtly generic plot, but I am talking about all of the crazy twists and turns that happen along the way. There are a number of things that happen in this film that come completely out of left field and leave you entirely dumbfounded. "Standing Ovation" is as simplistic as every dance competition movie that has come before it, but it just has so much more going for it. A lot of this must be blamed on the eccentric writer and director Stewart Raffill.

Stewart Raffill is a director that has never had a viable hit in theaters, but that doesn't mean he hasn't made some extremely memorable movies. Films like Ice Pirates and Mac and Me. Films that I grew up loving and watching routinely. Movies that were terribly quirky, entertaining and always laugh-out-loud hysterical. Standing Ovation can now be added to that same list. The movie is a heaping pile of awkward delight. A film that made me question myself and why the hell I loved it so much.

The answer to that is a combination of a number of things. I'm a sucker for musicals. Love them. Whether they are horrendous or award winning, I will always give a musical a try. I'm also a pushover for dance. Ever since I saw Breakin' back in 1984, I've had a soft spot for anything that has groups of people breaking out into choreographed dance. Just makes me feel warm and tingly all over. There is also the over-the-top preteen acting that is both awful and perfect. Very rarely are actors so bad but so genuinely entertaining. Most of that rests again on the shoulders of Stweart Raffill who is out of his mind.

"Standing Ovation" is 90% filled with preteens. This cast makes the cast of High School Musical look like a bunch of 30-somethings. Its a movie that even after watching the trailer I wondered when Chris Hansen from NBC's To Catch A Predator was going to pop out and say, "Do you know what you just watched?" Now, obviously I'm being sarcastic, the movie is in no way sexual but it does make a 30-something adult like myself wonder if I'm borderline creepy for being so enthusiastic about seeing it. Luckily, my enthusiasm centers around the whimsical and light-hearted nature combined with all of the hijinks within musical, not the fact that there are scantily dressed preteens throughout. Was it a surprise that 70% of the crowd at the New Beverly Cinema was older men? Probably not, but hopefully none of them will be later featured on Dateline's popular predator catching series.

After the film, as promised, Jennifer Tini and Monique Impagliazzo did a small Q&A moderated by Phil Blankenship. During the Q&A a number of questioned were asked including if the rumors were true that a sequel was in development. Tini and Impagliazzo confirmed that a sequel is being tinkered with, but nothing is set in stone just yet. They explained that Stewart Raffill was working on it and if he found a way to make it work, then it could potentially happen. One of the most interesting parts of the Q&A was when Jennifer revealed that one of the characters was originally written as a ghost! Yes, a ghost! This information blew all of our minds. Even Phil was so taken back he need a moment to gather his thoughts. This was a bombshell of information, something that left us all dreaming about what if's. The girls also explained a lot about the cast and how they were discovered. Apparently the character of Mr. Wiggs played by Sal Dupree is a pretty big deal in the vocal training department on the East Coast. Nearly 90% of the cast were his students, all of whom do really have natural singing talents. Not sure I'd say acting, but again Raffill's direction and zany script help to make their lack of acting talents no concern. All of the kids will have you giggling like a preteen.

One question my friends and I had going in to "Standing Ovation" was if the production staff new the kind of crowd they'd get at the New Beverly. Afterwards it is clear they did and are willing to accept the best/worst buzz that is sure to follow the film wherever it goes. Both Jennifer Tini and Monique Impagliazzo said they had seen the film countless times and the screening at the New Beverly was by far the most fun they'd had viewing it. While I have not seen Standing Ovation countless times yet, I certainly had a blast with the audience and the movie itself like the girls said. There is no doubt I will be buying the movie once it hits DVD in December so that I can watch all the fun whenever I desire.