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The Independent Critic

Directed by
James Eowan, Douglas Shaffer
Andre Bennett
Running Time
24 Mins.

 "Frankie 13 Vs. The World" Review 
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It almost seems odd to view "Frankie 13 Vs. The World" in the comedy shorts section of the 2009 Indianapolis International Film Festival. I found myself wondering "Are the filmmakers making fun of Andre Bennett?"

It's hard not to wonder, because the Andre Bennett borders more on sad than humorous as we ponder the life of Bennett, a 26-year-old former child prodigy who has resigned himself to attempting greatness by entering the World Rock Paper Scissors Championship in Vancouver.

At the age of 6, Bennett seemingly had it all when he was recognized widely as the youngest person to ever read and write in the state of Pennsylvania and received awards and poems for his writings and speeches beginning at the age of four. The son of a news radio guy, Bennett has spent much of his young adult life trying to find a way to fit in while following in his father's footsteps.

Playing up the "Rocky" aspect of the story being based in Philadelphia, "Frankie 13 Vs. The World" might have played stronger had directors James Eowan and Douglas Shaffer foregone the Rock Paper Scissors focus and given the film over to Bennett, an intriguing young man with a seemingly insatiable need to relive his younger glory days. Instead, much attention is awarded to the RPS circuit and, as a result, Bennett's story feels more sad than funny, especially given the less than satisfying result of his foray onto the RPS circuit and into the world championship in Vancouver.

Nicely shot and edited, "Frankie 13 Vs. The World" is right on that fine line of becoming a nicely done short documentary, but in the short span of 24 minutes the lack of a focus on either Rock Paper Scissors OR Andre Bennett gives an empty feeling regarding both storylines.

Who are these folks on the RPS circuit? Why are they there? What unites them? We briefly meet them but never really get to know them?

What happened to Andre Bennett's promise? Peer pressure? Parenting? Too much early success? The film only shows us his present day obsession with RPS without ever delving deeper into what happened between Bennett's childhood and his young adult years.

Despite its promising subject matter, "Frankie 13 Vs. The World," much like Bennett himself, never quite lives up to its promise.