CT FILM FEST REVIEW: ‘The Entrepreneurs’

Here is writer Erik Ofgang’s review of “The Entrepreneurs,” which plays tonight at the Heirloom Arts Theater at 7:15 p.m.

Three helpless businessmen come up with what they think is the ultimate get-rich-quick scheme: Take pictures of Elvis Presley’s grave, make it into a poster, and sell the poster to millions of Presley’s fans.

That’s the premise of the always funny and often hilarious comedy “The Entrepreneurs,” playing today at 7:15 p.m. at the Heirloom Arts Theater in Danbury.

Writer and director James Chip Leonard and Danbury native John Balis, a producer and writer, say the movie was inspired by a real life failed business venture. It was filmed locally on a shoestring budget; audiences from our area will recognize locations such as Cousin Larry’s Caf in Danbury, Bethel’s Sycamore Drive-In and Danbury Superior Court.

The ringleader of the fortune-seeking trio is Jesse (Tom Ellis), who is hoping to win back his former fianc with riches. Jesse’s partner Frank (Jerry Della Salla) is pushed into the project by Jesse and is also looking to meet women. The final member of the trio is the not so bright Chris (Jamie Stern), who signs on because he needs a place to stay and Jesse and Frank let him sleep on their office floor.

This would-be-successful trio is joined by their hysterically clueless lawyer, Bob Barzetti (Bobby Lydiard), who assures them there won’t be any legal obstacles to their plan, and Jesse’s father Ed (Edmund Lyndeck) — he’s knowledgeable about business but in presentations rambles on and never gets to the point.

The characters are engaging and funny from the start thanks to the gleefully oddball script and the comedic strength of the cast. Ellis is great as the wheeling and dealing Jesse. Despite all Jesse’s conniving and unscrupulous business practices, Ellis gives us the sense that deep down he’s a nice guy and we can’t help but root for him.

One great comedic moment comes when the incredibly overconfident Jesse gives the confidence-lacking Frank advice on picking up women. Anyone can see the advice is terrible, but Frank has had such bad luck with women he goes ahead and tries it anyhow, with surprising results.

Another highlight is when the trio’s car breaks down on the way to a meeting where they’re presenting their idea to potential financial backers. With their car busted and without cell phone service they decide to run the rest of the way through the countryside. It’s a ridiculous dash through woods, fields and swamps that shows the characters at their goofy best.

The film is far from an arthouse picture and will likely attract fans of Ben Stiller or Vince Vaughn comedies rather than those of the Independent or Sundance cable channels. “The Entrepreneurs” has some sexual innuendo, so it may not be appropriate for very young kids, but for the most part the humor is pretty clean and comedy fans young and old should check it out.

More reviews here

Info on parking and venues here

List of movies here

Official festival Web site here

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