The Extra (2005) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably R for language, sexual humor, and some violence
Running Time: 91 min.
Cast: Jimeoin, Katherine Slattery, Rhys Muldoon, Bob Franklin, Shaun Micallef, Kristy Hinze, Tayler Kane, Colin Lane, Raj Ryan
Director: Kevin Carlin
Screenplay: Kevin Carlin, Jimeoin McKeown, Tony McDonald, Dan Rosen
Comedian Jimeoin (The Craic) co-writes and stars in this Australian film about the frustrations of being a movie extra, where you get to be in scenes with major stars but you can't look at them or talk to them you are nothing to them. In many cases these poor souls are just happy to have their face in the movies, but just as often, they find that the only shots of them have wound up on the cutting room floor. They are moved around like cattle, and they can't even have a meal until the stars and bigwigs have eaten theirs first. They're lucky if their meals remotely come close to the quality of the ones consumed by the people with talking parts.
In The Extra, Jimeoin plays the extra (we never learn his name), just your average Joe that happens to be an extra in the most expensive film ever made, the third film in a wildly popular trilogy called Eternal Flame. However, despite some shoddy treatment, he is ashamed that his role has also ended up taken out of the movie, and what's worse, he doesn't get to go to the wrap parties or get all the hot babes the actors do. He knows that the only way he can get respect is to become an actor, which he plans to do by starring in a low-budget trailer for an independent black comedy. However, a seedy criminal and a scumbag cop also have dreams of becoming stars themselves, so the squeeze is put on to get the starring role.
The direction by director and co-screenwriter Kevin Carlin is quite good, getting energetic and enthusiastic performances from a competent cast of comedic actors. There are a few quotable lines here and there, and some inside jokes about big-time movie making that should provide moments of interest for those that like seeing what it might be like behind the scenes of their favorite blockbuster. Basically, all of the components are in place to make this a good film, save one -- it just isn't funny enough.
Sure, it is witty and wry, but there are long stretches where knowingly comedic scenes fly by, and yet, very few actually evoke genuine laughter. There have also been many films of this type, from Bullets Over Broadway to Get Shorty, so even the insider material doesn't seem so inside to savvy filmgoers nowadays. Although it is a relatively short film at 91 minutes, it also seems to be a short film stretched out to feature length, with a few scenes and characters presented that add little to the overall story or comedic value.
The Extra has some occasional pop, but it eventually does manage to wear out its welcome by devolving into a slapstick farce without funny developments or poignancy. There is a romance tossed in almost as an afterthought, presumably to make for a contrived happy ending. If I were involved in the editing process, I would have excised about an hour of this and made it a very good short film. Unfortunately, that also would mean that most of the extras that worked on this film would have ended up on the cutting room floor they all dread about.
©2005 Vince Leo