On the Road with Judas ***
Written and Directed by J.J. Lask
Even though "On the Road with Judas" is a bit of a mess, I enjoyed every minute of this unorganized, strange, zany, quirky little film, and I am rooting for it all the way to find an audience. Structured extremely unconventionally, "On the Road" is the story of a book, and the movie that comes from the book, as well as real life outside of the book, and a talk show about the book and the film all inside the head of the writer who is writing the book. Sounds confusing? It is until you get the hang of it all. The hilarious Kevin Corrigan who actually introduced my screening and had my face red with laughter stars as J.J. Lask, the writer and director of this film. He is writing a novel called "On the Road with Judas" which is being made into a movie. In his head he devises a talk show type scenario where a host interviews these characters, telling the story of the relationship between Judas (in the film played by Eddie Kaye Thomas and in real life played by Aaron Ruell from "Napolean Dynamite") and Serra (in the film played by Amanda Loncar and in real life played by Eleanor Hutchins). There is no real story as pointed out by one of the characters, but somehow J.J. Lask entertains us with this story of this man that does not really have much of a life or job. Besides the fact that he is addicted to stealing things, especially Mac computers. You know so little about these characters and there is no real story to follow, but you feel the pain of Judas, in one scene especially towards the end which I won't spoil.
The first fifteen minutes or so will have you lost until you begin to get the hang of the whole thing. You piece together who everybody is and what is real and what isn't real. I would like to see it again just to have an understanding from the first minute, but who knows when I will have the chance to see this again. The unconventional style is unlike one that I have ever seen before, jumping back and forth from all these different versions of the same thing. There is even a bit of witty commentary, ending the film portion of the film on a different, and happier, note from the book. I thought this was an interesting perspective on how Hollywood and big screen versions often change the flow and point of novels. This is not a film that will be liked mostly, and I can see people criticizing it because it seems pointless and is unnecessarily confusing. But "On the Road with Judas" has a bit of charm, is consistently amusing, and constantly has you thinking. It is far from a masterpiece, but it clearly was ambitious and once I got into the flow of it I enjoyed every minute.