The Mold knows, Jack. The Mold knows.
Ian Folivor (Adrian DiGiovanni) hasn’t left his apartment for months, and he has no interest in doing so until his television, lovingly named Kent, dies in the middle of a rerun-marathon. The loss of his source of entertainment makes Ian question his life and decide to take action. With two parts household bleach and one part sulfuric acid, he attempts go out in a chlorine gas induced, disgustingly glorious end. But due to an unfortunately placed vent and a bit of bad luck, he wakes up on the bathroom floor.
Ian is welcomed back by the mold on his bathroom wall, voiced by Jeffrey Combs, and things take a serious turn for Strangeville.
Motivational Growth is written, directed and edited by Don Thacker, and is the result of one singular idea coming to fruition. Everything in the piece, from the dialogue to the special effects, fit together and make for a compelling, funny and icky whole.
When it comes to the story itself, it’s clear that Thacker wanted to leave things open to interpretation. As we follow Ian down the rabbit hole, we abandon the concept of time and space. The story makes several logical leaps, and it’s not always clear what the relationship between Kent and The Mold is, or what is going on. For the most part, this is good, but the score and the animated sequences, so clearly inspired by 1980s/90s video games, left me wondering if there was another dimension to this piece that I missed.
I enjoy bizarre tales and I like that Thacker wasn’t afraid to let us jump to conclusions, but I believe the story would be stronger if the reason for Ian’s seclusion from society was revealed to the audience. Without an explanation, Ian’s retreat into his cave did not make much sense. I also found it problematic that he could afford to stay in there for months on end without a job. It’s difficult for me to sympathize with a character that is privileged enough to sit on his ass eating take-out for six months without financial strain. I just wanted to yell at him to get the fuck out and do something. Once I got past the set-up, I began liking the character, almost despite myself. But with a bit more set-up, I could have rooted for him from the start.
It must also be mentioned that this is very much a character piece, resting on DiGiovanni’s performance, and he does not disappoint. His delivery of the lines had me laughing out loud, and his desperation once The Mold pushed him far enough past his comfort zone had me cringing.
The choice to use puppets, real special effects and animated sequences fit the overall look and feel of the film, and the story. Scenes that could have seemed fake or over the top with CGI, were made tangible and poignant by the use of retro effects. In general, the movie looked very good.
The dialogue was sharp, the humor pitch black and the story absurd. I’d keep my eyes open for this twisted coming-of-age story, guys. It’s worth seeing.
I got to watch Motivational Growth before it’s Norwegian release date so that I could review it on this blog. A European release date has not been set yet, but keep your eyes peeled.