Starring Park Overall and Freddie Prinze Jr.
Written by Darren Stein and Catherine Eads
Directed by Darren Stein
Not a bad first effort.
have a dream and for a 39 year old trailer park inhabitant named
Melba May (Park Overall), that dream is to win a magazine
giveaway sweepstakes. Melba's husband Flint (Don Harvey)
is a trucker who cheats on her at every turn - he's boffed most
of the girls Melba plays cards with every weekday eve. When Melba
catches Flint redhanded, as it were, she's out the door to her mama's
trailer across the way.
If Melba is
the "white trash" (as she'll be described later in the flick) then
her hubby is white scum. And that's only the start of Sparkler,
a much better than average first shot from writer/director Darren
on the highway, three wet behind the ears twentysomethings on their
way to Vegas, to "earn" the rent money, are waylaid by a flat tire.
While they wait for Triple-A, they park in a bar where Melba, all
dressed up in her mama's finery, asks 'em to dance. Thus, the poor
meet the poorer and Sparkler (a nickname given to Melba after
the earrings she's wearing) plumbs the depths of bawdy humor in
a better than average indie slice of life story.
Trent (Jamie Kennedy) Brad (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and
Joel (Steven Petraca) want nothing to do with a woman old
enough to be their mother but Brad, the would be "talent agent"
gives Melba his card, which she uses when she discovers that one
of her earrings is probably stuck to Brad's chest. So, the innocent
trailer park babe heads for Vegas and a rendezvous with her destiny.
Most first films
are painful because they don't contain enough story to keep you
interested. That's not a problem with Sparkler, which has
story and subplots galore, all of which continually bring together
characters who, for the most part, don't want to be together. Melba
is eternally the innocent, completely unaware that the kidlets don't
want her around, but determined to do the right thing when she is
asked to take over a blackjack hand proceeds to make a bundle. The
kidlets dump Melba. Melba dumps Flint. Flint needs to find Melba
or he'll lose what he considers her share of the sweepstakes money
she doesn't know she's one.
We haven't even
gotten near the lower depths strip club where Melba's old high school
pal ("she dated Siegfried and Roy!") now works.
plenty of story and color, Sparkler looks cheap - that's
probably in keeping with the economics of the characters- and sounds
terrible. The film is improperly lit and a bluesy underscore is
mixed way too loud. Though there is a composer credit, it sounds
like production music and distracts from the telling of the tale.
The strength of the individual characters is almost enough to make
up for the lack of production values.
no complaint about the performances. You may recognize Park Overall
from zillions of seasons on a TV show called "Empty Nest". She's
made a career of playing lower economic parts and she fills Melba's
shoes beautifully. Don Harvey, as Flint, is cartoon scum and the
three kidlets all acquit themselves nicely. Cranky's seen Freddie
Prinze Jr. in three films this week alone. When does this kid sleep?
a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able
to set his own price to Sparkler, he would have paid...
was seen in a private screening, as Cranky doubts it will rise higher
than the arthouse circuit, if it gets anywhere near you at all.
Cranky put it at date flick level because, as far as the oodles
of first efforts we see go, this ain't painful.