Peter is a stand up comedian that consistently bombs on stage and has little to no real talent when it comes to his chosen "profession." After one particularly awful show, where absolutely none of his note cards held anything funny, Peter retreats back home and passes out in his bed/bathtub. Yes, the man shares a house that apparently is short one bedroom, so the poor guy uses the bathroom as his. When the phone (which incidentally sits on the toilet) rings the next morning, he's shocked to be offered $100 for a private performance. More than a little hard up for cash, he accepts the gig and is off to Mr. Randall's home where he's greeted by his personal assistant Stu. After a few awkward pleasantries are exchanged, it becomes apparent that Mr. Randall has some pretty sinister plans for the wannabe "soothsayer." After Randall shows off his ability to make anything disappear and return ten minutes later, somehow "better," Peter begins to realize he's in pretty damn deep. The rest of STANDARDS OF LIVING turns out to be (wait for it) an almost unfathomable marriage of science fiction, comedy, horror, romance, and mystery that might not always work, but is without a doubt something rarely attempted in the span of a single 90 (or so) minutes.
Mento's STANDARDS OF LIVING is being marketed as a film shot entirely with on iPad 2, and although that's true, the fact is wholly irrelevant. What actually does matter are the guts of whatever movie your audience is sitting down with. And, at its core, LIVING has an awful lot packed into its abdomen. Anchored by a rather inspiring performance from Yarborough (Peter) and solid turns from Ferris (Randall) and Houck (Stu); this one is way more fun than it has any right to be. Even when plot holes begin to rear their ugly heads, the sheer number of ideas (and catastrophes) put forth are just too damn wacky to bore. And aside from a few issues with sound design, a fairly sharp picture and a lovely score, make it easy on both the eyes and ears. It's a bit unrealistic to call Mento's effort a great film, because it's just not. But it's far above the drivel I was expecting. What the viewer is ultimately treated to is a filmmaker who has a ton of ideas and is somehow able to make them all "get along." It also doesn't hurt that the entire cast is game and that each "gag" is pretty expertly pulled off. This one surely won't knock anyone's socks off, but it will (without a doubt) have you eagerly awaiting what happens next. [6/10] ~Conduit [@conduit_speaks] March 7, 2014
Scotty Yarborough, Bill Ferris, Derek Houck