It’s always fun when you see a movie’s plot go completely off the rails in real-time.
It’s exciting watching a movie that starts off seemingly straight-forward, only for it to get crazier and crazier over time. It’s like being on a surprise rollercoaster, and the joy comes from just seeing what could happen next. Movies like Sorry To Bother You or Stretch are perfect examples of these kinds of films. Take Me To Tarzana similarly caught me by surprise and I applaud the director, Maceo Greenberg, for debuting such a wild film. While the execution was expectedly rocky for a debut director, there’s enough in the movie worth admiring.
Take Me To Tarzana focuses on a group of employees who find out their company has been illegally spying and selling the data overseas. The film uses modern issues such as sexism in the workplace and data mining effectively to inform the gradually building plot, helping ground the insanity to make the story feel natural. While the pacing could be faster, it never really dragged, and the ever-evolving stakes kept my interest. While I often forgive a low budget, the film could’ve used more engaging cinematography, as it does suffer from looking too clean, as is often the case with digitally shot indie films. I think the well-done story makes up for those shortcomings, so your mileage may vary on how the digitally-clean look impacts your immersion.
Performance-wise, the film is all over the place. Samantha Robinson easily gives the best performance in the film as Jane. As previously demonstrated in The Love Witch and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Robinson is simply a magnifying presence. She delivers tons of personality and charm into her performance, shining brightly throughout the film. I honestly wished the film was primarily from her perspective. Andrew Creer, who plays Miles, the lead in the film, I thought was okay but at times kind of bland. I understand that may have been intentional, as his character was supposed to be burnt out and frustrated from his new job, but compared to Samantha Robinson, he wasn’t as engaging. His performance did improve as the film moved forward, especially by the halfway mark. The rest of the performances were mostly over-the-top, so whether you’d find it funny is based on if you enjoy more cartoonish humor. I had a few laughs, especially from Oliver Cooper as Mile’s roommate Charles, but I think the performances could’ve stood to be a little less cartoonish.
Overall, the film is a creative first step for director Maceo Greenberg, and I’d be interested to see where he goes. While he could use some improvement regarding his directing style and comedy, he has a knack for good storytelling and the ambition to go full force on a crazy plot. I wish him the best moving forward.
Take Me To Tarzana will be released on February 19th, 2021