A recent world premiere at the 16th annual Dances With Films, the evocatively titled micro-budget indie film Steve Chong Finds Out That Suicide Is a Bad Idea tries to put a bearded, decidedly fraternal spin on the whole Return of the Secaucus 7 sub-genre, wherein young adults gather and grapple with changes in life and their relationships. If there’s a certain easygoing charm to the movie, there’s also a lack of forward-leaning momentum or insight to make these characters stick to the psyche.
Scripted by Owen Hornstein, from a story concocted by his other three male costars and director Charlie LaBoy, Steve Chong breezes along nicely, a kind of down-tempo riff on The Hangover, in which guys get together, imbibe alcohol and give each other some shit. (Fear not, neither tigers nor Mike Tyson make an appearance. Sadly, neither does Heather Graham.) Big-punchline jokes aren’t really on the agenda here, but rather comedy of awkwardness and humiliation rooted in grudges over an old love triangle and the like.
Unfortunately, while the title holds true in the literal sense, Steve (Stanley Wong, also an editor on the project) is mostly a cipher, and interesting details regarding the other characters remain half-sketched. Most frustratingly, though, the film doesn’t really try to tap deep into Steve’s pathological shyness, or any of the cultural considerations that may inform it. So is it a comedy, or a drama? It’s sort of both, really, but without much punch or bite in either direction. Lacking much in the way of dynamism, the movie merely bobs along — pleasantly, for the most part, but in ultimately forgettable fashion. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. (Steve Chong The Movie LLC, unrated, 81 minutes)