SIFF Review: Miss Nobody

2010 SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION!
Unrated
90 minutes

*

Right out of the gate, “Miss Nobody” is an annoying film. It’s one of those movies that fancies itself incredibly quirky because of the body-count-to-joke ratio. But in actuality, there isn’t a thing quirky about it. In fact, it’s basically a “Greatest Hits of Indie Movie Clichés.” Among the extremely tired elements: Whimsical animated opening credits, freeze frames to bookend back story montages, back story montages, people standing in the rain on purpose, characters declaring that “things like that only happen in the movies,” breaking the fourth wall and, of course, voiceover. Dear god, the voiceover! There is so much voiceover that it’s amazing they had any time at all for actual dialog. And, as per usual, it’s superfluous. A monkey could follow the simplistic and predictable plot. And not only a monkey that knows sign language. One of those really obscure monkeys that’s never even seen a human being before.

The Miss in question is Sarah Jane Mckinney (Leslie Bibb); a religious nut who lives in her mother’s antique-laden boarding home. When she was a child, she had a shouting alcoholic father who was apparently so shouty and alcoholic that everybody was happy when he was killed by a falling statue. Since then, Sarah Jane has prayed to the statue’s subject, Saint George, to help meet her goals in life. Her latest goal is to climb the corporate ladder at Judge Pharmaceuticals where she is employed as a secretary.

Initially, her plan is to bang the boss but, when that ends in highly improbably (if not impossible) accidental death, she takes it as a sign that God (via Saint George) has a different sort of plan for her and she starts killing people on purpose in order to rise to the top.

In movies, death is usually only funny when the character is a bad person. In “Miss Nobody,” everybody, including the protagonist, is a bad person and nothing is funny. Though the film is short by today’s standards, the characters are all so despicable/uninteresting that you don’t care what happens to them. As a result, the film really drags.

And then things get really annoying. The voiceover kicks into high gear, and the plot becomes even more convoluted. Screenwriter Doug Steinberg clearly spent a lot of time watching “Heathers” when writing this film. But while there are plenty of morally bankrupt corporate types in the film, there are no good people to balance it out. Sarah Jane is no Veronica Sawyer. Unfortunately, she’s not J.D. either. She’s just some entitled zealot with wide eyes and chunky bangs. Part of what makes Sarah Jane annoying might be the actress that portrays her. Leslie Bibb lacks any sort of subtlety in her role and may as well be winking at the camera.

The only breaths of fresh air come from Adam Goldberg as a hardened cop/love interest and the always-terrific character actor Patrick Fischler who plays a pervy executive jerkwad. These guys are both hilarious despite having nothing at all to work with. Character actress (a rare thing in Hollywood) also does an OK job with her role as a sassy, well-endowed co-worker/friend of Sarah Jane’s. But trust me, the presence of fine actors is no reason to watch them do work that is beneath them. “Miss Nobody” is a must miss.

Originally published on FilmThreat.com (now defunct). 

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