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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 01.30.12]

Year: 2010
Director: J.B. Ghuman Jr.
Writer: J.B. Ghuman Jr.
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Amazon: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 5.5 out of 10

When Bob Doto reviewed Spork a few years ago, he coined the term "bitpunk" to explain the new ground being broken by J.B. Ghuman Jr.'s quirky tale of a girl with boy bits who finds her stride in the cruel high-school landscape by dancing her little heart out. I can certainly appreciate and even agree with the term Doto puts forth but I can't get behind the film in quite the same way he did in large part because I don't care for the genre or the film - even if it does include some moments of sublime awesomeness.

Spork is intersex, or as she explains it - a "hermaphrodite," living her life as a girl and being ostracized by her peers. Ghuman Jr. could have chosen any other reason for Spork's un-coolness, heck in the microcosm of high-school bad hair would probably be enough, but he seems to choose this particular issue for a play on the character's name which immediately drops the cool factor a few notches. When her best friend Tootsie Roll injures herself, Spork offers to learn to dance, enter the dance off and win the prize money so that Tootsie can go and see her father in jail. It's sweet, talks to the power of friendship and along the way, improves Spork's self esteem while teaching her some awesome dance moves that put the popular girls to shame.

It's fun and the type of thing that would appeal to pre-teens, especially considering that most things 80s are cool again, except for the fact that you can't really sit your 10 year old kids down with this feel good, spunky, self discovering tale complete with dance competition because the language puts this well into R territory. Bummer. On the other hand, the potty mouth may play well to people who actually remember the 80s and can reminisce about scrunchies, neon tights and 8-bit sounds though how much they'll care for the tale of a girl finding herself is questionable.

I love underdog stories, especially those with girls who fight their way to self love and along the way put the mean, often popular, kids to shame but Spork never quite reaches levels of awesomeness suggested in the trailer. It's too referential and seems more interested in looking cool than actually being cool and though Savannah Stehlin in the role of Spork sells the emotional growth of the character, some of it is lost amidst the film's style.

Spork is fun, if a little too sweet, but the film's bitpunk style overshadows and even drains much of the film's emotion from the scenes. It's difficult to focus on a heartfelt moment between Spork and her brother when I'm distracted with everything around them (not to mention the characters themselves). I don't doubt that future entries into the genre will overcome this setback but as it stands, Spork is only slightly more entertaining than Jared Hess' films. I'll take April Mullen and Tim Doiron's work over this any day of the week.

Spork is available on DVD Tuesday, January 31st.

DVD Extras: None.

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quietearth (9 years ago) Reply

I loved this film and would give it an 8.

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