Edwin: My Life As A Koont (2013, New Zealand)

Koont poster

Tuesday night we had a rare outing to the cinema, to see the local premiere of Edwin: My Life As A Koont, a new comedy feature by local low-budget impresario Jason Stutter (Tongan Ninja, Diagnosis: Death, Predicament).

It’s a mockumentary about the eponymous Edwin, who has a medical condition that makes him an asshole. He’s rude to everyone, basically. The film is about his mission to stage a benefit concert for those sharing his condition, helped along his way by Peter Jackson’s dropped cellphone with contact details for half of Hollywood.

And I liked it. I liked it more and more as it went along. The first act mostly just hits the beats you expect, making a lot of play out of the condition’s unfortunate name, and that was fine and dandy but I wasn’t exactly laughing out loud. But then, as it runs out of the obvious gags and starts leveraging its characters, the pic starts to grow in two directions – it gets more engaging and dramatic, and it gets funnier. By the end of the film, I was totally on-side with it, and had enjoyed at least a good half-dozen real bursts of laughter (clearly passing the Kermode test of comedy).

Both of these directions of growth leaned on the same thing: the leads. As Edwin, Bryce Campbell was just excellent. Endlessly watchable, entertainingly rude and obnoxious while finding the right notes of obliviousness and sympathy, and landing his big laugh lines with the timing of an old pro. Shockingly, he’s not an old pro – his IMDB page is remarkably sparse of on-camera appearances, and it’s absolutely delightful that he won the LA Comedy Festival’s Best Actor award for this role.

Playing opposite is Jessica Grace Smith (Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Sione’s 2) as Edwin’s long-suffering girl Friday. And… (disclosure: Jess is family, and the reason we were at the premiere, so…) …she was great. Some sequences were played too broad for my taste but as the film progressed she carried more and more of the dramatic weight as foil and conscience for the film’s collection of mutants and misanthropes. The genuine chemistry between Campbell and Smith pretty much made the film work.

So, not to put too fine a point on it, I liked it. I mean, it’s far from perfect, like any shoestring film – Wellington locations do a lot of stunt double work, for example, and the sound mixing for some crucial hot tub exposition scenes is fatally limited. And there’re certainly a lot of dumb jokes that don’t work too well. But there are enough that do work to make me give this film a clear thumbs up. And to recommend you buy it.

I can recommend you buy it because it’s available for digital download, right now, at the very reasonable price of $2.95. Less than a cup of coffee. (MUCH less, these days.) I reckon it’s worth it.

(It might also have some more screenings at the Paramount in Wellington? Such is the rumour I have heard.)