The Ski Trip

           There's always a few mediocre movies that end up being
   programmed at film festivals. After all, not every movie can be great.
   Such is the case with
THE SKI TRIP, the debut feature of writer-
   director Maurice Jamal. The film is far from an unmitigated disaster,
   and the content is appropriately campy but some of what is meant
   to amuse the audience falls flat. Obviously, this was a labor of love
   (and clearly a low-budget one) so I'd like to be encouraging. Still,
   the screenplay feels more like a first draft than a polished product
   ready for the cameras.
           The central character is Corey (Jamal) who narrates the film, thus
   encouraging audiences and reviewers to think that the material might
   in some ways be semi-autobiographical. As
   Corey is something of a mess. He's turning 30, has recently been
   dumped by his boyfriend, is stymied in his career choice as a comic
   book artist, is struggling financially and is nursing a depression. His
   pals want to shake him out of it, so they arrange a night out at a club.

           Corey's buddies consist of Nikki (Cassandra Cruz), his former
   girlfriend who is now a lesbian, Terry (Daren Fleming), a drag queen
   with dreams of starring on Broadway, Omar (John Rankin), the
   sweet guy who clearly harbors a crush on Corey, Carlos (Emanuel
   Xavier), a bartender and disc jockey, and Byron (Nathan Hale), a
   fashionista with a bitchy personality. The night out only results in
   Byron stealing the one guy in whom Corey shows any interest --
   muscle-bound hunk Tyson (Haaz, aka Hassan Sleiman).

           To cheer the birthday boy up, the group plans a trip upstate
   ostensibly to go skiing (although no equipment is seen). The
   getaway is merely an excuse to have the cast assemble in one
   setting so they can play drinking games (like describing their
   saddest date) and reveal buried secrets, few of which really matter.
   To add further complications, Marcus (Will Blagrove), Corey's
   former boyfriend, shows up with a female in tow. More secrets
   are revealed and a scene set one year later wraps everything up
   into tidy bows and happy endings.

           The weak script often leaves the mostly novice cast stranded
   and flailing. Jamal projects some charm as Corey and Cruz gets to
   be both comic and serious. The best work in the movie comes from
   John Rankin, who is perhaps portraying the most rounded and
   realized character. Haaz has a few good moments as well, even if
   his delivery is a bit stiff. Hale, Xavier and Fleming are saddled with
   tired old stereotypes and nothing they try to do can compensate for

THE SKI TRIP is an extremely lightweight movie. Jamal
   pulls out all the stops as director, using comic book panels,
   hyperkinetic editing and other visual techniques that don't add
   much to the proceedings.

                                   Rating:                C -
Copyright 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.