Dirs/scr: Ben Chace, Sam Fleischner. US. 2010. 76mins
At least this indie-amateur-hour trip to Jamaica movie has a fine soundtrack, otherwise its tale of an ‘ugly American’ abroad might easily be dismissed as a glorified (and only mildly glorified) holiday video. Shiny, mildly exotic and engagingly amateurish, it flails around the cool Jamaican backdrop before pottering to an insignificant climax.
It’s a nice idea, but engaging amateurishness can only get you so far.
New Yorker Max (Sean Bones) is dumped by his girlfriend (inexplicably played by a rather embarrassed looking Norah Jones) heads off to Jamaica on a cruise, and one Red Stripe later he has lost his clothes, money and passport while off for a swim and find himself blundering around the island. Cue reefer-smoking locals, witch doctors and reggae music (plus any number of other clichés) as this rather irritating hero stumbles around in search of a storyline.
In reality co-directors Ben Chace and Sam Fleischner have been best-buds since childhood, and when Ben won a cruise in a raffle he had Sam along as his plus one. They added Sam Bones (the film’s lead) and Kevin Bewersdorf (as sound recordist and actor) and bingo - add one handheld camera and they had an instant film crew and cast.
It’s a nice idea, but engaging amateurishness can only get you so far, and the film lacks a gritty sense of reality, instead opting for a reliance on the cool backdrop when proper script and/or actors might have been handy. Apparently the informal translation of the title of Wah Do Dem is ‘What They Do’…so there you go.
Production company: Wah Do Dem Productions
Producers: Ben Chace, Sam Fleischner, Katina Faye Hubbard
Executive producers: Henry Kasdon, Daniel Murray
Cinematography: Sam Fleischner
Editors: Ben Chace, Sam Fleischner
Main cast: Sean Bones, Norah Jones, Carl Bradshaw, Kevin Bewersdorf, Mark Gibbs