To Live and Write in LA

Motivational Growth

(Originally published on Blogcritics.org)

posterMotivational Growth could be performed as a stage play, if it wasn’t for that heads-blowing-up thing. Written and directed by Don Thacker, Motivational Growth takes us into the twisted mind and apartment of Ian Folivor, played by Adrian DiGiovanni. Ian hasn’t left his apartment in 62 weeks. Then his 1960s era TV goes on the fritz, and his world goes crazy. Well, crazier.

The central question of the film is, “Will Ian ever work up the motivation and courage to leave his apartment?” Ian begins from an existentialist/nihilist philosophical viewpoint. In other words, he points to what he has just created in the toilet and declares that it is his life. He then goes all Sylvia Plath and tries to gas himself in his bathroom, but fails. When he awakens he meets the antagonist of the film – the big pile of talking mold next to the sink.

The Mold, voiced brilliantly by iconic cult star Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, Star Trek), pushes Ian, alternately motivating and dominating him. And then the film really starts to get weird.

Adrian DiGiovanni

Adrian DiGiovanni as Ian, having a bad day.

At some point, you realize that you can never be sure whether what you are seeing is real or just inside Ian’s tortured brain. (Hmm, getting philosophical, again.) But, that’s OK, because the parade of characters that walk in and out of his apartment and/or consciousness do not fail to entertain.

Two TV repair guys attempt to fix Kent. “Kent” is what Ian has named his TV. (You’ve named your TV, right?) The TV is our kinescope into Ian’s mind. His obsession with grainy old TV shows and 8-bit video games ultimately lead to reality melting into the programming.

Ian’s love interest, Leah, is played creepily by Danielle Doetsch. She becomes aware of Ian as he spies on her through the peep hole in his apartment door. She finds voyeuristic behavior charming. I was reminded of the equally creepy girlfriend in the surrealistic fantasyWrong. Writer/directors of surrealistic movies and creepy girlfriends – a connection?

Danielle Doetsch

Danielle Doetsch as Leah, who finds voyeurs charming

Filmmakers and fans should explore the film’s website . It is one of the most engaging movie sites I’ve seen. Most movie sites have a trailer and a few pictures. Motivationalgrowth.com is mobile-device friendly and provides stories and trivia about the film, wallpaper downloads, production notes and fun diversions. Having produced a few films myself, I particularly liked the post “I am the Producer. Fear me.”  You would think that this film is already a cult classic. I think it will be.

Motivational Growth takes on deep philosophical issues and filters them through the prism of gross-out humor and gruesome imagery. The performances, especially DiGiovanni’s, are riveting and the story, simple as it is, keeps you engaged and laughing. It has earned 27 awards in 30 film festivals for directing, screenplay, acting, creature/make-up, and special effects.

The R-rated film spews out over the world this fall. (Did, I mention the projectile vomiting?) Digital VOD begins in September, followed by Blu-ray/DVD in October and Cable VOD in November. For updates check the film’s website or Facebook page.

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