Jack-O TV jumps to big screen

by Mignon Lamia | 10/22/03 5:00am

The posters promise "money, power and pandas," but what exactly is "Jack-O TV: Episode 2" all about? From the creators of such parodies as "Cozmopolitan" and "The Dartmovth" comes a full-length film that is, in the words of its creators, a parody of itself.

The project began last year after the completion of "Episode 1," and will premiere tonight at 7 p.m. in the Loew Auditorium. Writing all last winter, shooting throughout the spring and editing this past summer, it took nearly a year and the efforts of 25-plus members of the Jack-O-Lantern society, the Casual Thursday improv comedy troupe and the assistance, technology and advice of DTV to complete what is, at 75 minutes, the longest film made by a Dartmouth student organization in recent years.

Though it was made by many of the same people who made "Episode 1," the creators say that a more professional approach was taken for this project. As head director and editor of the project, film studies major Kelly Morr '05 provided much of the filmmaking expertise. "Episode 2" is clearly the work of a crew with more time, money and experience behind the camera than the makers of the first episode.

But Kevin Pederson '05, one of the project's producers, said that not only was "Episode 2" executed with more technical filmmaking savvy, but its storyline was also given more attention than that of the previous episode.

Pederson describes the piece as "a parody of film, student films in particular." He said the project began with an attempt to answer the question of what would happen if a "really bad movie took itself really way too seriously." To this end, the movie mocks itself, taking elements of the stereotypical "arty" film to absurd extremes. Cal Newport '04 called the work, "a pastiche of hollywood cliches rolled up in a burrito of absurdism," to which actor and director Josh Cain '06 adds, "with a side order of hilarity."

Highlights of the movie include an original rap performed by Tri-Kap freestyle contest winner Cole Entress '06, improvised dance numbers and, returning from "Episode 1," the continuation of Noah Kaufman '05 starring as the satanic victim-defense lawyer, Eric Garnerson.

Also look for Entress chugging Dimetapp as a self-described "grizzled trucker who may or may not be magical," Shell Erikson '03 as "a corporate overlord turned philanthropist who may or may not be insane," Bob Swander '05 playing a "good-hearted environmentalist turned evil" and a group of wannabe cultists.

Why should you see "Jack-O TV: Episode 2?" Newport goes as far as to say that "if Jesus made a movie, it would lose to us at the Academy Awards." If that's not enough to convince you, Kaufman describes the project as "kind of like a car accident, no matter how much you want to look away, you keep watching -- a car accident gone wonderfully right."

Unlike the first episode, which got bumped from Collis Commonground by a Kwanzaa event last year, with the help of DTV the second installation has made it all the way to the prestigious venue of the Loew Auditorium for its premiere tonight at 7 p.m. Though it will be appearing on DTV regularly starting on Friday, this is likely to be your only chance to see it on the big screen. As Dr. Seuss, once a member of Jack-O himself, said, "if you haven't tried it; you should. because it's fun; and fun is good."