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The Independent Critic

Eric Toms, Todd Gaebe, Richard Moll, Konstantin Lavysh, Maria Olsen, Stephanie Sanditz, Darrel Cherney, Joseph H. Johnson Jr., Nikki Martin
Russell Whaley
Charles Price
81 Mins.

 "DisOrientation" Review 
Finn (Eric Toms) is a perennial underachiever whose collegiate experience has consisted primarily of drunken bashes and sexual conquests.

Toby (Todd Gaebe) is just the opposite, an over-achieving 15-year-old who has skipped the high school experience and landed on the doorsteps of college.

Finn. Toby.

You guessed it. Roommates.

The obvious mismatch starts off badly and gets worse. Initially, Toby can't deal with Finn's rampant partying and returns home. However, when he's sent back by his father and Finn learns of Toby's story the two begin to join forces with Finn taking Toby under his wings to teach him everything there is to know about the college life. Eventually, Toby catches on that Finn may very well be flunking out. When a hotshot lacrosse player, Landon (Darrel Cherney) manages to steal Finn's "girlfriend" and causes him to miss a required test, Toby becomes the teacher and Finn learns more than he ever thought possible in college.

Written by Charles Price and directed by Russell Whaley, DisOrientation is having its world premiere on June 2nd at Grauman's Chinese Theater and is an official selection of Dances With Films Festival 2012. The film has the look and feel of the old 80's teen/college-based semi-raunchy comedies with their abundance of naughtiness, flashes of T&A, tossed about body fluids and just plain silliness.

Looking at the film's packaging, it wasn't initially clear whether DisOrientation was going to be a horror or a comedy as its cover closely resembled that of the 1981 slasher parody Student Bodies. However, once the film gets going it's abundantly clear that the film is sort of a cross between PCU and Van Wilder, though it's not as funny as either film and also never quite as raunchy. In fact, it's rather painful to admit that the film almost constantly brought to mind the Paris Hilton vehicle The Hottie & The Nottie mostly due to Todd Gaebe's demure performance as the 15-year-old who has a hard time adjusting to his party animal roommate.

One of the biggest challenges facing DisOrientation is simply in accepting its basic premise, with the 32-year-old Toms never quite convincing even as a perennial college student and Gaebe, whose age isn't known but is at least in his mid-20's, also failing to effectively portray himself as a 15-year-old genius "fish out of water." The two have a decent chemistry, but it's simply unconvincing in the roles they're called to play.

DisOrientation elicits more chuckles than outright laughs, with most of the genuine humor coming from the film's supporting cast like Joseph H. Johnson Jr., who steals just about every scene he's in as one of Finn's friends, Darrell. The film also features a rather delightful but all too brief appearance by Richard Moll, known to most of America as Bull from television's Night Court, as Toby's unique father.

Too often, however, DisOrientation plays out predictably and brings to mind other films in the same sub-genre who've mined this same material with funnier and more entertaining results. The film's production quality is solid throughout, though it should be noted that the screening copy sent to The Independent Critic specifically mentioned that sound and color was still going through its final tweaks. Ben Kopec's original music fit the proceedings well by adding to the generally retro vibe, while D.P. John Honore' lenses the film effectively.

DisOrientation will unquestionably be tweaked along the way as it begins its festival run and it will be interesting to see the final product and where director Russell Whaley ends up taking the film.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic