A. (Anonymous)
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For years, Gavin Tartowski (George Malich) struggled to find a place where he belonged. He wanted help in battling his addiction to tight pants, but he just didn’t fit into any of the available support groups. So Gavin created A., an all-inclusive support group for people who just don’t fit into any other group.

The members of A. include a businessman who throws tantrums, a man with a compulsion to run over things, and a Hawaiian woman who thinks she’s an Italian bike racer. But their newest member, Benji (Ray Brewer), a 30-something huffer of colognes and laundry detergents, is proving to be a problem.

Forced to join the group by his mother in a last-ditch attempt to straighten him out, Benji wants nothing to do with the group—though he wouldn’t mind hooking up with Jenny (Sarah Jones), who’s working on her problems with lying. And as the various group members struggle with their own demons, Benji does nothing but disrupt sessions and start fights with fellow members.

Told in a simple, low-budget mockumentary style, A. (Anonymous) follows the seven eccentric members of Gavin’s unconventional support group as they struggle with their strange problems—and with each other. Through mock interviews and support group footage, viewers are introduced to all seven of the group’s unusual members, along with their families—though a few of the characters are given more attention. Still, none of them are particularly well-developed—and even Benji, whose deep-seated issues get more attention than the others’, seems a bit flat.

The writing, meanwhile, gets off to a great start—with its character introductions and its unexpected scenarios. But writer/director Daniel Bowers doesn’t seem to know what to do with his characters once he’s introduced them. They just wander through their regular routine, flailing around without much focus—or a solid story structure. And when something significant does finally happen, it feels contrived and unnatural.

As is often the case with many indie comedies (and many major comedies, too, for that matter), the humor is shaky. At times, the random, quirky comedy is laugh-out-loud funny; at other times, though, it misses the mark. Still, while it does have its share of awkward moments that just don’t work, a couple of the actors make A an entertaining experience. With his wild hair, his devil-may-care attitude, and his love of all things spring-fresh, Brewer’s Benji is the kind of character you’ll love to hate. And Malich plays barista (and obsessive compulsive wearer of tight pants) turned self-help guru Gavin with just the right mix of Christopher Guest and Bruce Campbell.

Still, despite its lack of focus, this low-budget indie comedy is an entertaining first film, thanks to its random wit and amusing performances. So if you’re having one of those days when you feel like you just don’t fit in, A. (Anonymous) is guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself.

Ed. Note: To view A. (Anonymous) online, visit EyeSoda.com.

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