Perhaps the defining moment in Joshua Kennedy’s latest film comes when his character, Robert Neville, alone in the deserted streets of New York City, sits in a theater and watches a film. Which, naturally is Charlton Heston, sitting in the exact same theater, watching a movie while playing Robert Neville in The Omega Man, and saying the same lines of dialogue as Joshua’s Robert Neville.
Got all that?
This is a hard film to define…Is it a remake, an homage, a pastiche, a parody, or a post-modern, ZAZ-style self-parody? Perhaps it’s a little of all of them and a bit more.
Whatever it is, it’s a joy to watch. Joshua Kennedy has that violently outthrust jaw down pat, and the clipped delivery of the dialogue. At times he almost sounds like Heston.
But then there is that marvelous replay gone wrong moment when he is rescued by “Lisa Cash” (not, I should note, played by Rosalind Cash) and complains that they have to get away on a PINK bicycle. She reminds him, with a shrug, that he doesn’t have a motorcycle license.
Which, I’m sure, Joshua doesn’t have. Now there’s one fourth wall thoroughly kicked over.
What we are talking about here is a movie that hits many of the high spots of The Omega Man, and re-visits its familiar places and equally familiar bits of dialogue (“thanks a lot, you cheating bastard.”) – often just slightly altered – while engaging in a few sly bits of comedy along the way. Somehow he managed to shoot much of the early part of the film on deserted streets, and to work in a bicycle chase through the familiar halls of Pace University (oddly, it seems to play a smaller part here than in most of his recent films). Most of his familiar Pace University cast (hidden almost unrecognizably behind vampiric plague victim makeup) makes an appearance here in his thesis film, although it is a tad bit disappointing that his Dracula, the late Xander Pretorius, only gets a minor role.
With just a little bite, of course.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable little film. I’m not sure how it will play with those who’ve never seen the 1971 classic: the basic story is still strong, even with a few knowing winks and a new chess opponent for Neville.
As always, one is left wondering, what’s next, Joshua? How are you going to top this one?
I, for one, am looking forward to finding out.
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