RENT-A-PAL movie poster | ©2020 IFC

RENT-A-PAL movie poster | ©2020 IFC

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Brian Landis Folkins, Kathleen Brady, Amy Rutledge, Wil Wheaton
Writer: Jon Stevenson
Director: Jon Stevenson
Distributor: IFC Films
Release Date: September 11, 2020

RENT-A-PAL is one of those movies that’s hard to evaluate. It seems to be the movie that writer/director Jon Stevenson set out to make, it’s well-acted, and it works up some tension. However, it raises a lot of intriguing questions and then doesn’t answer them. It winds up not being any of the movies the setup leads us to hope we’re going to watch.

We’re in 1990 Denver, Colorado. Forty-year-old David (Brian Landis Folkins) is a sad, lonely fellow. He lives in the basement of his parents’ house, tending to his dementia-stricken mother Lucille (Kathleen Brady), who often mistakes David for his late father, Frank.

David subscribes to a video dating service. This is back in the days when such companies literally supplied their clients with physical VHS tapes, which David plays back on a top-loading VCR. (Even in 1990, that’s old-school tech.) While he waits for a match that may never come, David discovers an odd tape at the dating service’s office, Rent-A-Pal.

David rents the tape. It features the sincerely smarmy Andy (Wil Wheaton). Andy addresses his viewer directly, one to one, promising friendship and breaking up his patter to give his audience – in this case, David – time to respond.

At first, David responds the way we do, at first disconcerted, then dismissive. And then he starts to succumb to Rent-A-Pal Andy’s dubious charms.

At this point, we’re intrigued. Who would make such a video? What is its real purpose? It can’t actually be just a grownup version of those kiddie shows where we were invited to respond to a host who couldn’t really hear or see us, can it?

We also feel for David, who starts out as a genuinely decent, responsible man. Yes, he drinks and watches porn, but he truly is dedicated to being a full-time caregiver for his mother. When he makes a tape for the dating service, the long version is rather endearing. It’s credible that this would eventually attract quasi-kindred spirit Lisa (Amy Rutledge).

Unfortunately, RENT-A-PAL is a lot more interested in another angle, so that it winds up looking like a low-budget, non-tie-in version of an extremely successful film about an incel that came out in 2019. This isn’t necessarily a filmmaking flaw – Stevenson has done well in terms of achieving what the goals that he appears to have set out for himself – it’s just not the most engrossing or even believable trajectory for the setup.

Folkins is excellent as the troubled David, Wheaton brings a lot of shadings to Andy, and Brady and Rutledge are both very persuasive.

RENT-A-PAL is a movie that has been made well on limited resources, with a strong cast. As a viewing experience, though, it is likely to leave many dissatisfied, and with the feeling that we’ve more or less seen this before.

Related: Movie Review: MULAN
Related: Movie Review: THE OWNERS
Related: Movie Review: THE FACELESS MAN
Related: Movie Review: WIDOW’S POINT
Related: Movie Review: Z
Related: Movie Review: EMPEROR
Related: Movie Review: BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC
Related: Movie Review: THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD
Related: Movie Review: ENTWINED
Related: Movie Review: TESLA
Related: Movie Review: RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE
Related: Movie Review: CUT THROAT CITY
Related: Movie Review: WATCH LIST
Related: Movie Review: MURDER IN THE WOODS
Related: 
Movie Review: THE BAY OF SILENCE
Related: Movie Review: THE SECRET GARDEN
Related: Movie Review: THE RENTAL
Related: Movie Review: LIMBO
Related: Movie Review: THE HOST
Related: Movie Review: THE FIGHT
Related: Movie Review: THE OLD GUARD
Related: Movie Review: AMULET
Related: Movie Review: A DEADLY LEGEND
Related: Movie Review: GHOSTS OF WAR
Related: Movie Review: RELIC
Related: Movie Review: THE BEACH HOUSE
Related: Movie Review: BELZEBUTH
Related: Movie Review: JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE
Related: Movie Review: FOUR KIDS AND IT
Related: Movie Review: FOLLOWED
Related: Movie Review: YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT
Related: Movie Review: MISS JUNETEENTH
Related: Movie Review: DRIVEN
Related: Movie Review: THE SURROGATE
Related: Movie Review: THE COLLINI CASE
Related: Movie Review: DREAMLAND
Related: Movie Review: SHIRLEY
Related: Movie Review: JUDY &  PUNCH
Related: Movie Review: END OF SENTENCE
Related: Movie Review: EQUAL STANDARD
Related: Movie Review: EVIL LITTLE THINGS
Related: Movie Review: VALLEY GIRL (2020)
Related: Movie Review: TROLLS WORLD TOUR
Related: Movie Review: SEA FEVER
Related: Movie Review: WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS
Related: Movie Review: VIVARIUM
Related: Movie Review: BLOODSHOT
Related: Movie Review: THE POSTCARD KILLINGS
Related: Movie Review: THE BANKER
Related: Movie Review: ONWARD
Related: Movie Review: RUN THIS TOWN
Related: Movie Review: ESCAPE FROM PRETORIA
Related: Movie Review: THE INVISIBLE MAN (2020)
Related: Movie Review: FANTASY ISLAND
Related: Movie Review: COME TO DADDY
Related: Movie Review: THE LODGE
Related: Movie Review: THE GENTLEMEN
Related: Movie Review: THREE CHRISTS
Related: Movie Review: CLEMENCY
Related: Movie Review: LITTLE WOMEN
Related: Movie Review: 1917
Related: Movie Review: JUST MERCY
Related: Movie Review: BLACK CHRISTMAS (2019)
Related: Movie Review: RICHARD JEWELL
Related: Movie Review: DANIEL ISN’T REAL
Related: Movie Review: LITTLE JOE
Related: Movie Review: KNIVES OUT
Related: Movie Review: QUEEN & SLIM
Related: Movie Review: FROZEN II

Follow us on Twitter at ASSIGNMENT X
Like us on Facebook at ASSIGNMENT X

Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Movie Review: RENT-A-PAL

 

Related Posts:

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

CAPTCHA Image
*

Increase your website traffic with Attracta.com
bottom round