Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Film Review: Flying To Disney World (2016)

For a film that literally uses one piece of paper (a winning lottery ticket) and a hot dog (a magical-scientific means of travel) Flying to Disney World really makes the most use of its limited resources. Its director and writer Jonathan Vargas takes his barren production potential in terms of locations and props to create an elaborate joke which is both funny and laden with subtle references to the popular culture. While not perfect in execution, this short film clearly shows that the ability to restrain one’s aspirations and ambitions for any one project is the key to its success.

Flying to Disney World presents its story as a one-line joke, opening with Sam, who is ecstatic to find out that he just won a ticket to Disney World. Being a grown man, he still takes the news as the most excited 12-year-old in the world, but only unit he finds out that he can claim it in Disney World itself. However, his car was recently destroyed by his roommate Roxy. But, just as all seems lost, Roxy enters the film and she comes with the perfect bang.

Part Dexter’s sister Dee Dee, part lunatic, Roxy is first distraught by the news that Sam won’t be able to get his prize because of her, but then, being that she is some kind of home-based insane scientist, she offers to resolve his problem using her invention. When the invention turns out to be a hot dog (a real, eatable hot dog) the film kicks into higher gear.

Here, the real jokes begin to fly and it seems that Vargas rightly recognized that this is the part where his actors really got into their roles. Both Amanda Ortega and Christopher Michael do great as Roxy and Sam, but once the "invention" enters the fold, Ortega takes it to a whole new level. Even though the film was up to that point intriguing because of its simple setup, the appearance of the hot dog is the glue that ties all elements of the film together and makes it work.

Here, the first few chuckles can mutate into full laughter as Roxy presents her idea to the bewildered Sam who doesn’t have any alternative. As a comedy, here the film shows its multiple sources of inspiration, from goofy slapstick to bizarre domains of things like Wonder Showzen. In fact, the film could have even better if an even bigger number of jokes came in even faster.

Cleverly, Vargas presents all of this in neat and tidy shots, where the camera doesn’t get used or abused in any way. He also uses sound editing to a degree that is above regular independent short films, which is also a great means of introducing humor, like the “sounds” that follow the unseen creation process of the powerful hot dog. This allows the film to focus on the characters, especially Ortega, who clearly finds her mark around this time and drives it home.

Flying to Disney World cannot be called a masterpiece of short filmmaking, mainly because of the fact that the visual domain was mostly used to present the dialogues, but doesn’t venture further (a safe bet, but not enough for greatness). However, it can be seen as a miniature sitcom which really is funny and entertaining. Independent short films regularly fail at both of the previous, which is why Flying to Disney World can be called a really good short comedy. Vargas possesses a big potential for a possible move to TV production because he has all that is needed for making short-form TV shows, especially if he could push his weird type of humor even further.

Find out more about Jonathan Vargas on his YouTube channel and Facebook fan page and watch the full Flying to Disney World below.