Rent-A-Pal (2020) Movie Review

Director: Jon Stevenson

Writer: Jon Stevenson (Screenplay)

Starring: Wil Wheaton, Brian Landis Folkins, Amy Rutledge, Kathleen Brady, Adrian Egolf, Josh Staab

Plot: Set in 1990, a lonely bachelor named David (Brian Landis Folkins) searches for an escape from the day-to-day drudgery of caring for his aging mother (Kathleen Brady). While seeking a partner through a video dating service, he discovers a strange VHS tape called Rent-A-Pal. Hosted by the charming and charismatic Andy (Wil Wheaton), the tape offers him much-needed company, compassion, and friendship. But, Andy’s friendship comes at a cost, and David desperately struggles to afford the price of admission.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Rent-A-Pal starts as we meet David (Folkins) who has been looking for love through the VHS dating style, while he cares for his elderly mother Lucille (Brady), David isn’t have too much lucky on the dating front, until he decides to film a new tape, which will see him discover another tape, Rent-A-Pal.

The Rent-A-Pal VHS is presented by Andy (Wheaton) who offers the viewer a conversation, one that David gets wrapped up in watching, having the conversation on repeat, giving him the interaction he doesn’t have in everyday life, becoming obsessed with the tape.

Thoughts on Rent-A-Pal

Characters – David is a lonely 40-year-old man that has been caring for his elderly mother for years, not giving him a chance to meet people in everyday life, trying his hand at the VHS dating system, when he gets a match he wants to enjoy the potential, but he has become obsessed with a friendship tape, which is slowly consuming his life. Andy is the charismatic host of Rent-A-Pal that offers friendship to the viewers, he has become a big part of David’s life, where he does know every conversation that is coming, only he seems to be getting inside David’s head with what he is talking about. Lisa is the carer that does show an interest in David, she could give him the life he desires now, she knows how to care for David’s mother in a way he doesn’t know. Lucile is David’s mother that has been suffering from dementia, forcing David to care for her, while never remember the tragic fate of her husband.

PerformancesBrian Landis Folkins is great in the leading role, filled with he creepiness of being alone, being caught up in wanting to escape and being easily consumed. Wil Wheaton is a character you will want to keep watching, which is why he has such a spell over David. Amy Rutledge in the supporting role works well, showing the light that could come into David’s life.

StoryThe story follows a lonely 40-year-old man that is trying to find something in the world through VHS dating, only for him to get caught up in a spiral of consumption when he watches a Rent-A-Pal VHS, giving him a chat, that he believes is real, taking over his life. The story is set in the 1990s which shows how before the modern social media we take for granted, people could find themselves lost from connection in the world, a place where they could become consumed by something empty in their lives. We see how the mindset can slowly change, how people can almost make up the story we want to hear, over what we need to see.

HorrorThe horror comes from seeing just how obsessed David does become with the video, he becomes disturbing and uneasy as the story unfolds.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show how David has found himself caught up in the world where he can’t get out to see more of the world, with isolation taking over.

Scene of the Movie – David becoming friends with Andy.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We missed too much of David’s life before Rent-A-Pal.

Final Thoughts Rent-A-Pal is a disturbing film that will leave you feeling uneasy throughout.

Rent A PAL will be available on Digital Download from 16th November

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – C – Couples Vacation (2017) Movie Review

Director: Brandon Dickerson

Writer: Brandon Dickerson (Screenplay)

Starring: David Arquette, Amy Acker, Adan Canto, June Squibb, Nicole Elliott, Daniel Ross Owens

Plot: With his marriage and career against the ropes, dejected author Jack Spencer travels with his wife, Amanda, to an isolated glamping retreat in search of a spark. When a surprise double booking finds their private retreat anything but private, Jack spins into a comedic exploration of love, lost dreams, small-town-wisdom, and friendship with a miniature donkey to get over himself before he loses all he holds dear.

Tagline – Love the one yurt with.

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Basic Comedy

Story: Couples Vacation starts when struggling author Jack (Arquette) takes his wife Amanda (Acker) on a vacation away form the kids, to put their marriage back together or deciding whether or not to call it quits, searching for a future that can keep them together.

Things seems like they are both happy to stay together, but Amanda needs Jack to start taking life more seriously for their children, though he is scared to give up his own dreams.

Thoughts on Couples Vacation

Characters – Jack had one of the most popular books, only following up his success has been difficult for him, with his latest books being dubbed failures, facing becoming distant from his wife and daughters and financial problems, he just doesn’t want to give up on his dream of being a successful author, the holiday he takes with his wife is meant to help put things back together, only they seem to make tings worse with his unwillingness to change. Amanda is the wife that just wants Jack to take a safe job to keep the roof over their heads, she is growing inpatient with Jack and is prepared to move away from him, the holiday is meant to bring them closer, though she does get her head turned by the hunky owner of the resort. Nate is the man that runs the resort, he does capture the attention of the women in the resort, while making it feel like a laidback location. Jude is the older lady that teaches Jack the most important lesson in life.

PerformancesDavid Arquette does try his hand at a more serious movie, though he does get to do his whacky side too, it does show him struggling to connect the two though, which doesn’t make it that interesting to see his arc, which is the key to the film. Amy Acker does well in the unhappier wife, that still turns head, she does need to be more grounded which comes through the film. Adan Canto is fine as the hunky resort owner that is meant to be here to try and seduce the guests.

StoryThe story here follows a married couple that go on a couple vacation to help sort out their problems and learn what made them fall in love in the first place. We do get the marriage in problems that mostly focus on the fact Jack isn’t willing to get a secure job after years of failure to become a successful author. We see how this latest problems are what has caused the rift and will need to be sorted if they are to stay together. This does show temptation which could come in the directions too. This is a story that plays by the books about needing to put life together before it is too late, but offers very little new.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film is mostly David Arquette making a bit of a fool of himself, though it doesn’t quite click, with the romance being about the marriage not going the way the couple had planned.

SettingsThe film is set in the camping location which is meant to show a quiet life away from the busy failures behind them.

Scene of the Movie – The singing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The endless no signal line.

Final Thoughts This is a basic comedy that shows how hard following dreams can be while keeping a marriage together, the comedy doesn’t hit hard enough to get enough laughs.

Overall: Simply Comedy.