A 30-year-old loser fights to win the love of a girl by defeating her odious, professional disc golf-playing boyfriend in the stoner comedy The Kiwi.
In case you haven’t heard of it, disc golf is played in over 40 countries worldwide. It’s a flying disc sport where players try to throw a Frisbee into a target in as fewer throws as possible. Using similar rules to golf, disc golf is played on a course with 9 or 18 targets known as baskets. Players complete a hole by throwing a disc from a tee pad toward the basket until it is reached. Formed by wire with hanging chains above it, the basket is designed to catch the incoming Frisbees, which then fall into the basket, for points. And so begins our journey into the world of Kiwi – a man-child stoner played by Eric Michael Federman
Kiwi spends many of his days hanging in his room and smoking pot, a habit that can be traced back to his younger self, thanks to a rival he has had since childhood named Bryce. Using some amusing flashbacks with funny subtitles, we see Kiwi and Bryce as children trying to outdo each other at school and while playing outside together. Bryce continually beats Kiwi in every competitive thing they ever do, meaning Kiwi has to twerk for every loss. Kameron Basseri gives Bryce a gentle-yet-dislikable quality, underacting to the point of complete smugness; his calm and dry performance is consistently funny. Kiwi has the hots for Bryce’s girlfriend Melissa and in a rare moment of clarity or possibly madness, Kiwi challenges Bryce to a disc golf tournament to rid himself of the demons Bryce created for him and win the hand of Bryce’s girl.
The third part of this comedy trio is disc golf Legend Scooter, who since the height of his disc golf glory days, has been lost and living rough in the woods, although his weird fetish for cats didn’t help. He tells Kiwi that he will coach him to victory by teaching him some special moves. Scooter is played by James Inez, whose Mr. Miyagi-inspired training methods get some laughs. The disc golf tournament itself follows the time-honored formulas of all sports movies but is considerably enhanced by the likeability of its cast and the characters they have created.
Federman makes some interesting choices as Kiwi; he’s not the basic Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen pudgy stoner, but a guy with a job and responsibilities who is only doing drugs because he feels like he has let everyone down, yet at the end of the film he makes the right choice. His delivery always sounds natural, even improvised, and he never seems to be reading a line, but the movie really belongs to James Inez as Scooter.
According to IMDB, The Kiwi has three directors and three writers, Scott Bell, Paul Pettigrew, and Wayne Winterstein share the credits for both jobs. It’s a tribute to the filmmakers, particularly the editors, that something with the potential to be mismatched and look patched together actually comes across as a solid piece of entertainment. You can’t see the join so to speak. The script remains witty throughout, while some directorial choices are quite clever with traveling shots that follow the Frisbees as they fly through the trees, reminiscent of the arrows in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. We also get to experience a fun soundtrack too that runs the gamut of original rock compositions to acoustic numbers and reggae tracks. The lack of colour grading is a missed opportunity, but overall the 86-minute run time contains enough sight gags, knowing smiles, and chuckles to feel like a genuine underdog comedy film in the vein of Dodgeball with a bit of Karate Kid thrown in for good measure.
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