In Be My Oswald, an anti-consumerism wacko known only as “B” (Katha Cato) and her rebellious socialite accomplice “A” (Jeannie Noth) join forces to stage a piece of performance art activism that, it’s eventually revealed, involves assassinating Santa Claus during Manhattan’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Not a particularly amusing premise, and in the hands of Don Cato, it’s just about excruciating, as the writer-director finds innumerable ways to make sure that any hint of humor or social commentary is delivered with utter incompetence. B is prone to bossing around her protégé and expounding on the horrid impact of Santa on culture and society, and A is a schizo lunatic who talks to her plush dog doll Muffy and yearns for her rich mommy’s acceptance. Both characters have been drawn with Crayola strokes, which doesn’t acquit the actresses for embodying their roles with overacting amateurishness. Then again, with roles like these, it’s hard to imagine anyone fairing considerably better, as Cato’s script—which also features a robbery-gone-wrong and a caterer with a fondness for getting high—is sketchy, preachy, and lethargic, and his direction is community theater-grade clunky. A miniscule budget is probably at least somewhat to blame for Be My Oswald’s dull sets, audio in which voices are drowned out by reverb, and digital video that frequently looks worse than my MiniDV-shot home movies. But in light of what other indie filmmakers muster with skimpy resources, that’s hardly a satisfactory explanation for the across-the-board chintziness—aesthetically, narratively, thematically—of this shoddy, pseudo-comedic lecture about our spendthrift ways.
Score:Cast: Jeannie Noth, Katha Cato, Maggie Maes, Rich Bogle, Tom Pagano Director: Don Cato Screenwriter: Don Cato Distributor: ChipAway Productions Running Time: 93 min Rating: NR Year: 2006 Buy: Video