Monday, April 27, 2020

Review: Vanilla

Release date: April 27, 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Starring: Will Dennis, Kelsea Bauman, Eddie Alfano 

Vanilla is a comedy about an mismatched pair: one a freewheeling aspiring comedian named Kimmie (Bauman) and the other an uptight entrepreneur named Elliot (Dennis) trying to develop an app.  After just meeting, these two embark on a road trip to sell a van and save the comedian's family business.  However, the van is ultimately being sold to Elliot's ex-girlfriend who he clearly still has feelings for.  This and other issues will pop up on this three day road trip.   

Vanilla is definitely an indie film and it feels like one.  That's not necessarily a bad thing as indie film is a great avenue to see new ideas and hear new voices.  And Vanilla has a lot to like. I really liked Will Dennis as Elliot.  He is likable, awkward, and generally fun to see.  And his interactions with Kimmie are enjoyable to watch.  The two have good chemistry during their trip and make a fun pair, despite there being some awkward dialogue and situations.  And speaking of characters, Kimmie's uncle Sal (Alfano) is another highlight.  It is unfortunate that he isn't in the movie more as he is very funny and always draws your attention when he is on screen.  And since this is a comedy road trip, there are definitely some funny jokes along the way.  And the ending provides something different that you might not expect.  All these add some extra flavor to this indie comedy.  Vanilla is far from a plain indie comedy.

However, Vanilla does have some flavors that left a mixed taste in my mouth.  For one, the Kimmie character is interesting, but a little too out there.  And although some of her jokes definitely made me chuckle, there were also a lot that just fell flat. And despite the chemistry between the two main stars, there were situations that just felt awkward.  Maybe I'm out of touch with how these interactions go, but there were definite scenes where sharp criticisms would happen that would be brushed off.  And finally, some of the shots and dialog felt a little forced.  However, Vanilla still has plenty going for it to make it worth a rental.

Vanilla has some added flavors to keep you entertained, such as the chemistry between the two leads, some funny and introspective dialog, and a refreshingly different ending.

Rent it.

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