You don't always get what you pay for. Weekend at Bernie's II and Son-in-law are lame excuses for comedies, but seeing them will still lighten your wallet noticeably. Meanwhile Studentfilms, Inc., an offshoot of Robert DeNiro's Tribeca Film Center in New York City, has compiled a touring exhibition of eight of the finest student films produced in the U.S. in recent years. The Student Film Festival travels to FIU on July 22 and 24; admission is free.
Individually, any of the three films I screened is funnier than either of the above-mentioned Hollywood efforts; collectively they blow the commercial product away. From the four-minute -- Woman's Point of View During Sex, which is pretty much what the title implies (the dinner, the leer, the first move, the ceiling, et cetera), to Matthew Harrison's witty male-bonding flick, Two Boneheads, the direction is assured, the jokes are fresh, and the acting ranges from inspired to amateurish. Two Days in Wisconsin, a romantic farce about a lonesome couple who inhabit a rundown, two-pump gas station in the middle of nowhere, is particularly deranged and at times flat-out hysterical. The dead-on French film parody is the kind of sketch Woody Allen used to make back when he still cared about being funny.
Studentfilms is promoting the exhibition as an opportunity to see tomorrow's Spike Lee or Oliver Stone today, which might be a mistake. It sells the films short. These are fine movies in their own right -- insightful, entertaining, well-made, and funny as hell. Granted, they're student films; that means they run anywhere from four to twenty-three minutes in length and were generally shot in sixteen-millimeter black-and-white. But the quality product justifies the drive out the Tamiami Trail to the FIU campus.
Don't attend because you might catch a glimpse of the next Scorcese; go because they'll make you laugh harder than Pauly Does Green Acres, and it won't cost you a damn cent.