Johnny Francis Wolf
Joseph L. Johnson
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Two Front Teeth (2006)
16th Jan 09
It maybe the Season to be jolly, however timid tabloid journalist Gabe Snow (Johnny Francis Wolf) is not having a good time. He suspects quite correctly that his wife Noel (Megan Pearson) is playing around behind his back, and then there’s the small matter of a story he ran for the publication he contributes to, The X-Mas Files, which concerns itself with festive season related fare of the more bizarre kind.
Gabe is haunted by his knowing that when Flight 1225 was brought down one Christmas Eve, it was done so by a flying creature that had a glowing nose – any guesses what that might be kids? There happens to be some vicious elves keen to get their clawed hands on Gabe’s source for that story and they will stop at nothing to do so.
With a limited budget of just $200,000 at their disposal one should expect the odd rough edge or two - for example, one face on shot of the two leads driving is so obviously a static car despite the lighting hoping to indicate otherwise. The Christmas-styled lighting, all fairy-light red and green, compensates for the lack of sets.
Two Front Teeth wastes no time in getting started, with a neat prologue and title sequence, but flags a bit come the mid-way mark. The story seems to falter and the pacing runs out of steam, like the concept wasn't given enough room to breathe in script form before the guys took to putting it onto film. What keeps things from stagnating are the odd chuckle and the sly nods to other movies and more especially the performances.
Johnny Francis Wolf plays like a halfway stop between the bumbling Clark Kent, Christopher Reeve-style (also, and not un-coincidentally a reporter for a paper) and The Evil Dead’s Ash (whom Wolf admits to having Bruce Campbell's legendary performance inform his own). His performance is amusing and is the perfect balance for the ballsy and gobby turn from Megan Pearson as his cheating, foul-mouthed, ballsy wife. Pearson steals the picture every time she is on screen and is a delight to watch. Michael Brecher also makes an impression with just a short role as Gabe’s Chief Editor Ed.
Writer/director Jamie Nash, and his co-director David Thomas Sckrabulis, have fashioned a fun festive treat, that whilst far from perfect, manages to surprise and deliver some goodies, if not constantly, enough of the time to keep even the most jaded viewer switched on. The odd burst of animation is welcome and the score, courtesy of James Gunyon, an award winning composer for both movies and the concert stage, far exceeds the standard one would expect for a low budget flick.
The gore is neatly handled, dig that severed Santa head, and the unexpected and rather delightful Kung Fu scrap towards the climax is nice and bouncy and well-choreographed. The idea of a vampiric Santa Claus - or Clausferatu if you don’t mind - is a neat touch and for some the Silent Knights, a trio of nun assassins, would be a hoot for some too.
The evil elves remind of those mischievous little buggers from Joe Dante's Gremlins with their ears and pointy teeth, as well as their Christmas setting. Where they differ is that these aren’t puppets but played by six women. There is that maxim of more is less and that would apply here with how much we see of the elves. The scene where a number of them sneak up on the good guys lets the film down a little as we can now see the elves for what they are, women in limited costume rather than blood-thirsty elves.
There has been talk of a sequel involving the Easter Bunny and on the evidence of this celluloid venture there is enough promise on show to make that a movie to look out for. Two Front Teeth is seeking for that niche known as a cult movie and there's ample here to grant it that status if marketed correctly.