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The Independent Critic

Kelly Monteith, Anthony Russell, Robert Dubac, Caroline Alexander
Oktay Ortabasi, Kelly Monteith
72 Mins.

 "Too Hip for the Room" a Predictable, Effective Film 

In Too Hip for the Room, veteran stand-up comic Kelly Monteith plays Jake, an aging, washed-up comedian still scratching for gigs who is confronted by real life or, in his case, the pressing financial needs of his autistic son, Patrick (Jake Krickhan). Jake is divorced from Patrick's mother, Trish (Caroline Alexander), and it is readily apparent that Jake hasn't always successfully balanced life on the road and life with a family.

Still, he tries.

With Patrick entering young adulthood, including the obligatory cinematic crush (Briana Freehan), Jake begins to look at less desirable gigs in an effort to raise enough cash for Patrick to participate in a needed program led by Dr. Hertzog (Jay Brothers). Working with Stuart (Robert Dubac), an old stand-up friend turned manager with whom he has some lingering baggage, Jake ends up having to choose between a gig that could help improve his son's quality of life and a professional opportunity that has potential to make him a relevant comic once again.

Too Hip for the Room benefits from the presence of Monteith, who also co-writes and co-directs the film with Oktay Ortabasi. Monteith's presence here feels genuine, his face weathered from years on the road yet his humor has a naturalistic quality about it that makes you root for Jake even when Jake's not making the greatest choices.

The film also benefits from some semi-familiar faces, such as Franklyn Ajaye and Kipp Addotta, who both make relatively brief appearances here. As a film writer who actually knows a stand-up comic with a daughter who has autism, Scott Long, and another well known comic and character actor, Googy Gress, who has a daughter with a developmental disability, I found myself resonating deeply with Jake's dilemma and the challenge of maintaining an unpredictable career while real life occurs all around you.

Too Hip for the Room isn't a flawless film. The story itself borders on predictable and the film's ultimate resolution can be seen a mile away, though by the time that comes along we're already invested in this journey with Jake. An obviously low-budget effort, it's still an effort that for the most part works with an effective ensemble cast and a leading performance that will likely make you rush home and look up Monteith on Youtube (which you really should do - the guy's funny!).

For more information on the film, visit its Facebook page linked to in the credits on this page.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic