Review: 'Marathon' (2021) Dirs. Anthony Guidubaldi & Keith Strausbaugh
Independent film-makers Anthony Guidubaldi and Keith Strausbaugh combine a well loved TV genre and well loved sport that unites all of us and brings it to us as a feature length film...
The Devils Canyon 26 mile marathon, a Boston marathon qualifier, is in its 15th year. Organised by shoe shop owner Ed Clap (Slonia), the marathon brings together a real bunch of colourful athletes.
Athletes may not be the right word - a group of runners are followed by a documentary crew, all wanting to prove their own point in running the marathon. Be it for fame, health or finding your calling, they all have their own stories to tell.
The crew discuss the marathon not only with Clap and the runners, but take to the dusty trail to see the runners in action and what journeys will happen along the way. Safe to say, it doesn't go to plan for most of them...
Audiences love a mockumentary on a global scale in both TV and film. From Ricky Gervais giving us gifts of 'The Office' both in the UK and North America, along with other mockumentary hits such as 'Parks & Recreation', 'Borat' and 'This is Spinal Tap', we can't help but watch.
Directors and writers Anthony Guidubaldi and Keith Strausbaugh gives us feature film that injects the situation comedy, quirky character traits and simple locations familiar in 'The Office', which probably has been a big influence. Simplicity is the name of the game here, and we are just following six different people as they prepare, train and power through everyday life while training for a mighty 26 mile marathon! What is there not to enjoy?
The comedy may not always land over the first hour or so, as most of the humour is characters playing off against the unseen documentary crew and having their own quirks and habits. It's these moments that often feel like heavily scripted comedy that doesn't flow as naturally as intended. But with the production set across real locations in both urban, city and country landscapes, it's a great look at everyday America and the people who want to be somebody.
While a single subject drawn out over a 1hr 20min run time can drag, the team behind the scenes keep the edits short, snappy and all scenes free from flab and excess dialogue.
A host of unknowns play our lead roles including Kimia Behpoornia, Tavius Cortez, Natalie Sullivan, Jimmy Slonina and Anais Thomassian. All are ahead of the game not being instantly recognisable faces by allowing us to associate them with their characters.
We are treated to everyday people running for their own reasons; some want to push boundaries and prove themselves, which others are doing it for fame and to be known, and others are out for the glory of qualifying for the Boston marathon itself. It's easy to find flaws in all the faces we follow, but then it's entertaining to see them all on their individual journeys.
Jimmy Slonia as organiser Ed Clap and Anais Thomassian as mother Abby shine in their roles, full of dry comedy and wit. To be fair, all our actors are sharp with their delivery and interpretation of the roles and most, if not all, hit their required mark.
The final act is a great pay-off for the marathon itself, and everything comes out as our racers make the great marathon and battle through the odds. Again, small in scale and budget, but still managing to retain the comedy and quirky production design that it's followed throughout. For an independent film that knows the market and offers a different sort of mockumentary, it's all about the people running this marathon and why, rather than any glitz, glam or excess weight to the story.
Taking it's time through hit and miss skits and set-pieces over the first hour with a mixed bag of characters, 'Marathon' manages to cross the line in its final act that hits situation comedy perfectly.
'Marathon' is a Hot Tub Mimosas production and on digital and VOD from July 6 via Gravitas Ventures.