Todd W. Langen is an award-winning
screenwriter whose credits include the
critically-acclaimed TV series
THE WONDER
YEARS
and the first two live-action TEENAGE
MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
movies. For his debut
as a filmmaker, he has undertaken an intriguing
project, an omnibus movie of forty-two short
films. In making the film, Langen set out two
criteria that make the
DOGME 95 movie makers
look like amateurs: all the shorts had to be shot
at a single location and everything had to be
done by one person. Langen's film,
42 STORY
HOUSE,
eschews the typical laundry list of
credits (no executive producers, producers or
associate producers to haggle over whose name
gets listed first). Instead, there are two option
to watch the film: from the beginning straight
through, or via the scene selection wherein the
viewer can dip in and watch what strikes his/her
fancy.

Now the $64,000 question is: Is the movie any
good? The short answer is "Yes." Clearly a man
who has amassed the credits and awards that
Langen has is no slouch when it comes to
creating funny situations. Are all forty-two short
films masterpieces? Well, no. But then we don't
expect a baseball player to hit home runs every
time at bat. I mean, ideally we might hope he
does, but we'll settle for the triple or the single
or even a walk. Heck, we'll allow for an
occasional strikeout as well.

As I've written in many other reviews of comedy
films, humor is very personal. What strikes me
as funny may not appeal to you the reader, and
vice versa. I can vividly recall back in college
when I was sent to review an independent
comedy and I that I was the only person in the
theater laughing. Two older women who were
seated behind me snottily said "well, at least
someone is enjoying this." People often get into
heated debates over the merits of Charlie
Chaplin versus Buster Keaton. Judging by
box-office returns, there are millions who find
Adam Sandler's early comedies quite amusing.
(You couldn't pay me enough to sit through
them.) Anyway, I think I've made the point.

42 STORY HOUSE is a remarkable achievement
simply because it is a one-man show. Langen
shows great promise as a film director with
several of the shorts. The visuals are well
crafted and while the film is clearly on the
low-budget scale, it doesn't have a cheesy feel.
Even if a gag doesn't quite land as gracefully as
it might, along comes another that does. A lot of
the humor is visual and in some cases quite
clever. On occasion, some jokes are milked a bit
too much, especially when they are recurring
ones, but overall, the film is definitely worth a
look.

If really pressed, I would have to cite a several
of the shorts as among the ones I enjoyed. Two
of them are recurring ones: one in which a man
eats his breakfast ("A Foreign Breakfast," which
pays homage to Ingmar Bergman, "A Sci-Fi
Breakfast," and "An Adult Breakfast") and the
other of a man stepping outside with a
newspaper and experiencing various days ("A
Good Day," "A Bad Day," "An Ironic Day," for
example). "Egg-icide" is also quite funny as so is
"While You Were Snacking."

Unfortunately,
42 STORY HOUSE probably won't
be playing at your local multiplex, but you can
purchase a copy at Todd W. Langen's website
www.42storyhouse.com.


Rating:               B+
Running time:     90 mins.
42 STORY HOUSE
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.