The laboriously quirky low-fi coming-of-age comedy Spork, from writer-director J. B. Ghuman, Jr., serves as a reminder that the words “original” and “good” are not necessarily interchangeable. Heck, this low-budget offering isn’t even all that original, in fact, just constructed of parts to bait one into the false feeling that it is so.
Spork centers around a frizzy-haired, small town junior high outcast (Savannah Stehlin) — so nicknamed because her absentee mother told her before splitting that she was a hermaphrodite — and her bangle-bracleted attempts to fit in, despite the bullying and antagonism of a mean-girls cabal inclusive of sneering, bouffant-haired tweens with names like Betsy Byotch (Rachel Fox, above center) and Loosie Goosie (Oana Gregory, above left). With the assistance of her trailer park neighbor, Tootsie Roll (the charismatic Sydney Park), and new, pint-sized pal Charlie (William Arnold), who has two gay dads, Spork decides to tackle a school dance contest, both for the cash prize and side benefits in self-esteem.
In both tone and style, Spork unfolds sort of like an ever so self-conscious mash-up of Napoleon Dynamite, Youth in Revolt and Dear Lemon Lima, another precious and colorful festival circuit staple from a couple years back that had the benefit of a smarter screenplay and much more engaging characterizations (as well as Beth Grant in a nearly identical role, as the school’s principal). In this regard, Ghuman manages to do something rather remarkable — take a uniquely canted personal story of self-actualization and uplift, studded with some nice production design, and make it boring and grating. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. (Underhill Entertainment/Neca Films, unrated, 86 minutes)