Hot Tamale

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On Friday night I attended the opening for this year’s Dixie Film Festival at Georgia State University, where I watched the husband/wife team of Michael and Janine Damian receive an award for their film Hot Tamale (click here for Official website). Regular readers (all five ka-zillion of you) will know that I’ve been busy with my own asinine projects all summer, so the Damians’ film was a welcome break that allowed me to sit back, relax, and watch someone else’s work for a change.

The plot is all too familiar: Country Mouse moves to Los Angeles, meets sexy girl and becomes entangled with dangerous people. It’s always the execution of the plot that makes it fun, and Hot Tamale does a good job of keeping it fun even when the plot gets lazy and staid.

Casting was pretty damned great for a indie, though several of the better known actors were used as deux es machinas when the plot holes begin to widen. I felt that Carmen Electra‘s part was too one-dimensional and tacked-on, though I’m certain that having her on board was important for distribution. Jason Priestley (whose foot I accidentally trod upon at Director Richard Lang‘s funeral mass) has fun in his role but is completely upstaged by Mike Starr, who is (for better or worse) forever etched into many of our minds as the hit man from ‘Dumb & Dumber’, a role he seems to reprise in a slightly harder version in this film.

Central American soap-opera star Eduardo Yanez is onscreen for the briefest of moments, providing me with a burst of nostalgia for the Aaron Spelling series called “Savannah” that we shot here in Atlanta back in the mid-90’s. Eduardo came on-board for one or two episodes during our second season and when he wrapped he went around set handing out autographed posters of himself without a shirt on. Both the value of those strange autographed posters and Eduardo’s waistline have increased since I last saw him.

And speaking of Mr. Spelling, his son Randy is the film’s country mouse hero. While we only ever saw Aaron’s associate producer E. Duke Vincent on our end of the country, I have seen photos of our late employer and was surprised to see that Randy wasn’t as skinny as his dad. I mentioned to Michael Damian that I thought Randy bears a strong resemblance to Justin Bateman. Somebody should put them in something together as brothers, see how that works out.
I turned green with envy for Randy Spelling once I got a good look at the his leading lady, Diora Baird. She must have a million (and one) mouth-breathing morons posting articles about her amazingly curvaceous body. Zowee, and we even get to see it. That’s more than enough justification to buy the DVD right there. If I’d been Randy I would have kept blowing my lines just to get another take with the girl.

Look for an appearance by James Best, the actor whose madcap stint as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coletrane on the Dukes of Hazzard assured him of everlasting fame, and endless imitations by the show’s legion of fans.

Ultimately, Hot Tamale is the kind of movie that’s fun to see on a Saturday afternoon when you’re flipping channels; the kind of film that goes on the same channel as Weekend at Bernie’s 2. It’s quirky, but ‘safe’ quirky – it stays within the Hollywood norms in that you always know where it’s headed, even when you begin to hope that it isn’t. Which is fine.

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