During a lesbian speed-dating session, a number of vulnerable, stupid, innocent, experienced, and amusing characters all try to find their one true love. Here is our review of Joshua Nelson’s relationship comedy Meow Mixer.
The last film of Joshua Nelson’s that we reviewed here at Screen Critix was his comedy-horror Psycho-Therapy. That was the story of a psychiatrist who under tremendous pressure in her personal and working life eventually snapped and took murderous vengeance out on all of her patients. I took another look at my review of that film and remembered that it was enjoyable if a somewhat flawed slice of entertainment.
Now Nelson brings us Meow Mixer, a comedy involving speed dating, lesbians, and pick up artists and, although that synopsis may sound completely at odds with Psycho-Therapy they are very similar pieces of work. This tells us that A) Nelson is completely at home with comedy spins on genre movies but more importantly B) Nelson has a distinct directing style that makes his films easily identifiable among a crowded market.
For starters, much like Psycho-Therapy, Meow Mixer is an ensemble piece that is filmed for the majority of its 38 minutes run time in a talking-heads style. As each of the characters addresses the camera and tell us a bit about themselves and then, during the speed dating sessions, talk in pairs about love, life, and loss. These scenes are broken up by a side plot that involves the only two male characters, Rodney and Wes. Wes is a self-styled pickup artist and Rodney is his student. Of course, as is the rule in all romantic comedies, these seemingly unconnected characters will all end up involved with each other in some way in the end. But as long as the journey is interesting and entertaining the audience will quite happily go along with everything.
The film opens with each of the female characters in a mid-shot, telling the audience their pet hates about the generalisations and questions they are all often asked when people first find out that they are gay. It’s an amusing set-up that gives each of the characters a chance to tell us who they are and what they are all about. This enables the audience the opportunity to get to know each of them and to get a feel for their personalities. It’s also a pointed attempt to make us look at ourselves and see if we are guilty of asking some of these very same questions. Nelson deserves a lot of credit for his approach to sexuality in Meow Mixer; yes it is about a lesbian speed dating event, but the characters’ sexuality is never trivialised and there is nothing gratuitous or seedy about how it’s presented in the film. It is simply a part of the women’s DNA. Something they have all accepted and that they are all happy and proud about. In that sense, Meow Mixer is quite an empowering LGBT film.
Thrown into this mix are the male characters, Rodney and Wes. Rodney is a fine comic creation from actor Bryan Murray and a dim innocent. He is a mixture of Paul Rudd and Forrest Gump and the film is at its best when he is involved in scenes; his story about an incident with a doughnut is funny, while his chat up lines are legendary cheese. Wes, played by Connor Boucher, is a much less likable character, yet still has his moments with a laconic delivery that leads to some good laughs. However, this is the girls’ show and all of the female actors are very strong. There are far too many to go through individually but certainly, each one has their moment to shine and each character is a genuinely original creation.
Filmed during the COVID lockdown, Nelson manages to create a naturalistic environment despite the social distancing measures needed, and the cinematography by Michael Zayac is bright and well lit, whilst the editing is nice and neat; quickly changing the pace between dating scenes to give the piece some zip.
Meow Mixer is an entertaining piece of work that, much like Nelson’s earlier films, had more been shot and with added scene variety, would have been even better. However, I can guarantee you will enjoy the short and have a laugh along the way.