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Unicorn City (2012)
Overall funny film, but not flawless.
The laughs build slowly in Unicorn City, a film that centers around a very small nitch of nerdy tabletop gamers who attempt to create a gaming utopia up in the mountains.
Usually the biggest flaw with contemporary comedy films is that they put all the laughs at the beginning and leave the third act with empty plot. Not so with Unicorn City, where the laughs slowly build as people figure out exactly what kind of a movie they're watching.
The obvious similarity to Napoleon Dynamite here lies in its dialog; sometimes funnier on the page and quoted by fans, than in the film. There could have been more laughs here had the soundtrack not become so invasive. The quieter the scenes are the easier it would be for the audience to pay attention to the nerd-banter. As Napoleon Dynamite proves, less is WAY more.
The majority of the laughs in this comedy come from situational and visual humor. Two scenes in particular; the pipe-sword coming out of the ground and the centaur arriving to the gamer utopia for the first time, show a unique humor that gives Unicorn City its strength.
There is some incredible acting from local talent in this piece, particularly Jaclyn Hales performance as the awkward love-interest. She is able to play such a laughable role with such honesty; there is no winking at the camera here.
The quality of the films visuals were also a big plus. The cinematography seemed more Hollywood than independent as Brandon Christensen shows us his full skills as DP. Only once or twice was the lighting obvious, which for a local Utah film is quite impressive.
However, this film is far from perfect; the plot was too predictable and too contrived to be believed (that job interview, please.), some characters lacked development, and overall, for a film about tabletop gamers, it was too clean ("Oh my gosh!" "Bull Crap!"--Come on, we all know what the dialog between real gamers are like).
But then again, it is a fantasy, and in this fantasy maybe our world is cleaner than it really is. The film is as detached to real life as the gamer characters are, so maybe., just maybe, that's the point.
Overall highly entertaining and fun for the whole nerdy family.