Written and directed by Philip Vickery, Seth (Sergio Castillo) just can’t seem to deal with losing Reina and his date with Michelle (Kat Peña) is paying the price. But when their night takes a turn for the worse, Reina might be the only one who can save them. Also starring: Travis Mitchell, Ron Orlovsky and Woodrow Proctor.
No-one wants to go on a first date where the other person spends the whole time talking about their ex, so no-one would blame Michelle when she completely tunes out Seth and looks at her phone. Understandably, she soon ditches him and makes for home but he convinces her to give him one more chance, one last drink but unfortunately the bar that they choose is in the process of being robbed by Russian gangsters. As they’re held hostage, Seth apologises for spending the entire time talking about Reina, but as it turns out she’s not his ex…she’s his dog, that his ex-girlfriend calculatingly stole. It’s a great turn of events that revealed in a very nonchalant manner to let the comedy come through smoothly rather than forcing it, it reflects the way it’s used throughout the film.
The comedy feels like it slides into the parody column, it’s classically taking a situation that is reasonably possible then exaggerating just enough of the details to bring in the humour and it works extremely well. The actors playing the gangsters make a strong impression and do very well to hit the timing and tone of the comedy and provide the most laughs, particularly Mitchell who pulls the story out of Seth of what happened to Reina, a story that’s well put together to cover a lot of ground in just a couple of minutes. The writing reflects the concept that no matter who we are, the love of our pets unites us, whether we’re young professionals or Russian robbers. It also provides a great opportunity to undermine that ridiculous machismo and make the robbers come across as big softies underneath that bravado, they can commit as many crimes as they want but they can’t hide their love for dogs. It’s a quality that quickly adds layers to a character to stop them from being one dimensional, a clever choice to sidestep the problem that 15-minutes is a very short amount of time to round out a character.
There are also a great deal of touches that push the quality of the film further, particularly the choice of locations, the bar in which most of the story takes place was well chosen and gives a few solid perspectives, giving the direction some movement but also keeping things intimate. Then there’s the choice to visually tell Reina’s backstory, rather than just verbally, which really strengthened it. Also, what may be inconsequential to some, is the credits sequence, cutting the clips of each character to add to the names rather than just a list and including little bloopers was a great extra touch.
One of the only areas the film falls down in is the chemistry between the two leads, which causes issues with believability of the latter moments. They work well together but there’s no romantic spark which is a shame and it’s possible it might have come through if given a little more time but with the initial disdain then hostage situation, there just isn’t the opportunity. A few more glances or a quick line could have potentially facilitated that chemistry but as it stands, it isn’t very convincing so knocks things slightly off course at the end.
Reina feels as though it could be an extended Saturday Night Live sketch, it has the right amount of parody without going too far outside the realm of reality, it’s funny and touches upon the soft spot we all have for our pets. It’s a little bit predictable but that can be forgiven because it provides a great story, entertaining characters and perfectly resolves itself. You’ll have a few laughs, you’ll remember how lucky you are to have your pet and you may even have a little of your faith restored in humanity through the power of pups.
Check it out for yourself below!