Bug (2002) / Comedy-Drama
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would probably be PG-13 for some language and implied sex
Running Time: 86 min.
Cast: John Carroll Lynch, Bryan Cox, Jamie Kennedy, Sarah Paulson, Christina Kirk, Arabella Field, Alexis Cruz, Christopher Bauer, Michael Hitchcock, Grant Heslov, Ed Begley, Jr.
Director: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Screenplay: Matt Manfredi
Review published May 31, 2007
Bug is more of a "concept film" than a straightforward entertainment, so keep this in mind before deciding to give this one a watch. You probably shouldn't let that phrase shy you away though, as it plays as a mostly light, whimsical comedy throughout most of it, with some occasionally poignant, serious moments thrown in. In fact, as some of the characters and their storylines re-emerge, you'll probably soon forget the artifice on which the film is built around and just enjoy it as an interesting, low budget vignette comedy.
Even though there's quite a few characters to the production, the plot is simple enough to relate. One day, a young boy sees a large, strange bug on the sidewalk, and on a whim steps on it, unwittingly setting forth a chain of events in the lives of many in the neighborhood.
There's no main star in Bug, but you'll probably recognize many of the faces. A good part of the screen time goes to John Carroll Lynch ("The Drew Carey Show"), playing the caring man who first reacts to the bug-killing, and starting the ball rolling when he gets a ticket for leaving his car unattended in the street. I'm not sure if it was intentional, but Lynch has the dubious distinction in appearing in two comedies that spoof the legendary made-for-TV movie, The Boy in the Bubble (Bubble Boy was the other Lynch effort.)
Brian Cox (X2, The Ring) gives a funny performance as the owner of a Chinese restaurant, concerned with different types of bugs, in this case, bacteria. Jamie Kennedy (Malibu's Most Wanted, Scream) has some of the funnier moments as the Calvinist fortune cookie saying maker who goes over the edge at times in response to his girlfriend, played by Sarah Paulson (Down with Love). Lots of other side stories, all interconnected, keeps the action flowing fluidly, in what might be called a lighter, fluffier version of Magnolia.
Before taking their turn as directors, the duo of Manfredi and Hay wrote a couple of screenplays for higher profile films like Crazy/Beautiful and the original pitch for Jackie Chan's flick, The Tuxedo (which also featured a sort of chain reaction sequence at the beginning and surrounded the theme with bugs...many, many bugs.) Although they do a commendable job for a first effort with minimal dollars to spend, the directing is perhaps the weakest element of the film. It's never bad, just awkwardly shot at times, and many of the scenes involving more quick-cut action comes off a bit uneven. Luckily, they are working with some talented actors, and of course a winning script, so it's pretty easy to forgive the newbie filmmaking for the many good moments that emerge.
If you love independent films with lots of imagination, Bug is definitely worth picking up as a rental, although you may have to hunt around a bit to find a copy. Although it's built around an idea that has been used several times before, the level of the writing makes it fresh enough to keep you entertained for the short duration. Some bits work better than others, but overall, Bug has enough juice to keep you from stepping on it when it's over.
©2003 Vince Leo