Review: Skills Like This

The film’s portrait of bank-robbing as a solution to aimlessness seems quaint when viewed through the filter of today’s economic hardships.

Skills Like This
Photo: Shadow Distribution

There’s an off-the-cuff charm to Skills Like This’s opening, in which 25-year-old Max (Spencer Berger), a writer with a giant afro whose play The Onion Dance was so bad it put his grandfather in the hospital, throws caution to the wind, and robs a bank. Max’s decision to pull off, and his execution of, the heist has an impromptu, seat-of-the-pants verve that for a time helps sustain Monty Miranda’s directorial debut, though even in the vivacious early going, the seeds of forthcoming tedium are sown. Max’s motivation for thievery is that, unlike everything else he’s ever tried, he’s good at it, which impresses macho friend Tommy (Brian D. Phelan), concerns buttoned-up pal Dave (Gabriel Tigerman), and winds up endearing him to Lucy (Kerry Knuppe), the fetching bank teller whom he held up, and whom Max successfully woos later that night at a local bar. Berger’s script (from a story by him and Tigerman) has an unstrained good humor that keeps the film light on its feet up until the point at which the focus begins to splinter between Max and Lucy’s budding romance and Tommy and Dave’s day-long efforts to personally and professionally reinvent themselves. These latter, scattershot sequences feel primarily designed as runtime padding and eventually lead to prison-set action that’s both broad and nonsensical. Yet more frustrating still, these diversions are devoid of the anything-goes goofiness which had initially proved endearing. The film’s portrait of bank-robbing as a solution to twentysomething aimlessness seems quaint when viewed through the filter of today’s economic hardships, but Max thankfully exudes a humble nonchalance free from the type of smugness that might have overwhelmed his cocky-thief role. Still, a subplot involving the death of Max’s grandfather, culminating in a tacked-on speech from his uncle Morris (Ned Bellamy), does much to further drag down the slackerdaisical proceedings.

 Cast: Spencer Berger, Brian D. Phelan, Gabriel Tigerman, Kerry Knuppe, Jennifer Batter, Ned Bellamy, Marta Martin  Director: Monty Miranda  Screenwriter: Spencer Berger  Distributor: Shadow Distribution  Running Time: 88 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2007  Buy: Video

Nick Schager

Nick Schager is the entertainment critic for The Daily Beast. His work has also appeared in Variety, Esquire, The Village Voice, and other publications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

Review: We Pedal Uphill

Next Story

Review: The Edge of Love