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Routines Review

June 18, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
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Routines Review  

Routines Review

Michael Bugard– Bruce Mann
Anita Nicole Brown– Darling Wednesday
Kaylee Williams– Sandy
Lou Cariffe– Edward Mann
Arlene Arnone Bibbs– Sarah Mann
Beka– Hannah Wednesday
Josh Hadley– Video Store Clerk

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Domenic Migliore
Screenplay by Domenic Migliore

Runtime– 87 minutes


Routines, written and directed by Domenic Migliore, is a wonderfully dark mega low budget black comedy that will make you wince and laugh out loud more than once, and sometimes at the same time. While it is a little rough around the edges, Routines features several top flight performances and a great, weird as hell story. And, as I said, it will make you laugh. Hard.

Routines stars Michael Bugard as Bruce Mann, a sad sack stand-up comedian that no longer clicks with the audience. No one thinks his jokes are funny, lots of people find him offensive, and it seems as though the more he tries the less inclined people are to liking him. When he isn’t attempting to make people laugh, he’s renting videos, buying cocaine, and hanging out at home with his oblivious parents (Edward and Sarah Mann, as played by Lou Cariffe and Arlene Arnone Bibbs). It isn’t a very exciting or fulfilling life, and Bruce knows that but he doesn’t know how to change things. One day, Bruce meets Darling Wednesday (Anita Nicole Brown), a punk rock singer at a bar and starts flirting with her, mostly out of boredom and curiosity. She’ll probably run away from him. That’s what they always do. Darling doesn’t run away, though. Darling is actually really into Bruce and they hit it off almost immediately.

Who the heck saw possible happiness coming? Bruce sure as hell didn’t. And Darling is everything Bruce has ever wanted in a girlfriend and partner. They were, oddly, made for each other. So Bruce and Darling get married, and it seems like, finally, Bruce is going to be able to start living life again. That bright feeling doesn’t last long, as Darling is murdered in the video store during a botched robbery. Devastated, Bruce tries to move on, falling back into several of his old habits and routines. Bruce finds another woman, Sandy (Kaylee Williams), but she doesn’t generate the same kind of internal excitement as Darling did. It’s an awful situation for all involved.

Well, at least he now has some new material for his stand-up act. He’s lived a great life in a short period of time. Bruce can probably mine that for laughs. Unfortunately for Bruce, his new material flops the same way his old material did. Something else happens, though, something I can’t divulge because it’s something you have to experience fresh. I will say this, though. You may think that while watching Routines that it won’t end up making sense, that all of the story threads thrown out won’t come together at the end. It just doesn’t seem like that kind of movie. The truth is, though, that Routines comes together brilliantly. And if you don’t smile and laugh when it’s over, you need to watch the movie again and pay attention. It all makes sense.

There’s a very real, raw spirit throughout Routines that may offend some potential viewers. The movie doesn’t shy away from being offensive, being rude, or having a main character that can be hard to like sometimes. The movie is also filled with nudity and sexual situations that you just don’t expect to see. None of it is meant to be exploitative, though. These raw, potentially offensive things are just what happens in this cinematic world. The camera never lingers on anything for too long. There’s also a dry goofiness to the proceedings that helps with the comedy. Bruce’s interactions with his drug dealer are hilarious. I’m assuming that Bruce buys drugs in an alley somewhere, but it doesn’t look like an alley anywhere. It kind of looks like he’s buying drugs on a stage somewhere. It’s weird as hell. But this is where these characters live, so none of it is weird to them, only the audience. And Bruce’s cocaine routine in the bathroom before going on stage is funny because it’s so mundane but it’s one of the few things that Bruce does that lets him live. And Bruce has no idea how to fix any of it. It’s sad, sure, but it’s also quite funny.

Bruce’s parents are also weird as hell. Edward and Sarah are cinephiles who just constantly watch movies on television. They never seem to know what the hell is going on around them. Even when they seem to be engaged they’re not. It’s like they’re living in a different world. How can they not see that Bruce has problems that he can’t fix? Do they care or are they just willfully oblivious? You could probably make a funny movie out of their life. Is it possible that they have some other life that we don’t see because we only see them when they “interact” with Bruce?

And then there’s the video store, which is almost as frustrating as the comedy club. Bruce goes there all of the time, but the one time he forgets to bring his card the clerk (a very funny Josh Hadley) forces Bruce to get a new one. It’s store policy. Does the policy make any sense? Not really. And Bruce puts up a small fight over having to get a new card, but he eventually gets one because what the hell else is he going to do?

The various sets and locations used for the movie don’t seem like real places, even when they are real places (like the video store). That lack of reality gives the movie an oddly whimsical feel at times. And that whimsy is good at times and bad at times, depending on the situation. Again, Bruce’s cocaine routine is so boring because it’s the same thing over and over again, but at the same time it takes place in a bathroom that doesn’t seem like a real place. It makes you wonder if Bruce is actually doing cocaine in there. He is, you know he is, but there’s still a feeling of “Well, maybe he isn’t.”

It’s amazing how the tenor of the movie changes when Darling is around. Bruce is definitely more positively engaged when she’s with him, and when she “leaves him” it’s devastating. Anita Nicole Brown’s chemistry with Michel Bugard is goddamn infectious. That chemistry figures into the ending in a truly unexpected way. I didn’t see it coming at all. I wish there was more of Bruce and Darling.

My only real complaint about the movie? I wish it was somehow faster. It doesn’t really drag but there are times where I thought “this should be faster.” But those moments are few and far between and the slow moments don’t kill the movie at all.

Michael Bugard is excellent as Bruce Mann. Every aspect of his performance is spot on. His stand-up comedy technique is perfect for a guy that no one likes anymore. He’s annoyed and defeated but he’s still doing it. His energy picks up when he’s around Darling, and then when she’s no longer around you can see the darkness around him get darker. And check out the family dinner sequence where Bruce spells out ‘Fuck” with his French fries. It’s just so damn great. And Bugard, as I said, is excellent here.

Anita Nicole Brown is so damn awesome as Darling Wednesday. Her natural happy charisma just oozes off the screen and you can’t take your eyes off her. She’s also apparently game for anything and that’s always amazing to see. Her best scene is in the video store when she clocks the clerk right in the face. It’s incredibly sad when she’s taken away from Bruce. As I said earlier, I would have been fine if the entire movie was Darling and Bruce together. That would have been great.

Kaylee Williams does a great job as Bruce’s second girlfriend Sandy. Williams has chemistry with Bugard but it’s a sort of antagonistic chemistry, and it makes the movie different when they’re together. How would a solo movie featuring Sandy work out? I would like to find out.

Routines is terrific. I can’t stress that enough. It’s a great mega low budget dark comedy. When it’s available you need to see it. You will laugh, you will cringe, you will laugh hard. If you’re a fan of mega low budget dark comedies you absolutely need to see it. And if you’re an adventurous movie fan, you should absolutely check out Routines when it’s released. It will be well worth your time.

See Routines. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 1

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: Yes.

Doobage: A cool synth opening score, a masturbation joke, a porn joke, complaining about the culture, microphone to the face, microphone stand to the back of the head, video store hooey, cocaine buying, finger licking, pizza smelling, morning radio show hooey, a comedian fucking around with a microphone, button pressing, a fart noise, multiple cinephiles, punk rock hooey, impromptu sex, a condom, condom stuck to the face, more video store hooey, more drug buying, pre routine sex, some serious cocaine use, having sex on top of a woman in the bathroom (but it isn’t a threesome), off screen bondage, marriage, an awkward family dinner, hand holding, attempted robbery, knife to the throat, throat slitting, death sex, a sparse funeral, multiple instance of people watching public domain movies, public urination, a bloody nose, magazine reading, serious bagel eating, a story about a goldfish, barfing, bathtub fellatio, shoe throwing, vagina rubbing, a 3 Stooges inspired beating, beer bottle throwing, more barfing, shiny shoes, gun stupidity, a hilariously off kilter interview, therapist punching, coffee mug to the head, pie to the face, autograph hooey, fighting women, attempted singing, not very hot sex, sad drug buying, masturbation, a chest wound, and people clapping.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: A stand-up comedian that no one likes, the Yuk Yuk Hut Comedy Club, a Velcro camouflage wallet, Josh Hadley, Josh Hadley wearing a T-shirt advertising his “12:01 Beyond” podcast, condoms, talk of the movie Key Largo, appreciation of The Prisoner, VHS hooey, need of a membership card, Josh Hadley getting punched in the face, Polaroid camera hooey, Michael Bugard spelling out “Fuck” with French fries at dinner, public domain movie watching, annoying movie commentary, a Charles Bronson T-shirt in the background, fucking around onstage, mention of Jo D’Amato, PBR, and people clapping.

Best lines: “Who the fuck said that? Who the fuck said that?,” “Well, Bruce, another fantastic performance tonight,” “Bruce. Richard,” “I don’t like the porn channels. Why is that? Too fucking vanilla,” “So, uh, Bruce, do you want to press the button? What?,” “You guys are fucking idiots,” “You’re funny. How old are you? I bet you’re younger than you look. You want to take that bet?,” “Can I call you baby? Why not?,” “These movies have the best death scenes,” “I used to have cable,” “This is a dude’s ring. I wouldn’t wear this on my clit,” “Now you’re into kidnapping?,” “You need to suck more cock. It builds muscle,” “You want to hear some funny stories about Brucie?,” “You didn’t rewind it. Sue me,” “Darling and I were married. Here’s the ring to prove it,” “You’re going to kill your ear drums,” “Try to take it easy, man,” “Ed, talk to him. Come on, let’s talk,” “Bruce, we love you,” “Comedian? Yeah, I don’t know no comedian. Do you want your dick sucked or what?,” “Pay me and get the fuck out. I don’t have any money. I spent it all on the coke,” “Fucking hipster! You can’t fucking sing!,” “I came twice. You barely even moved,” AND “You never had PBR? PBR?”

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Routines is a wonderfully dark mega low budget black comedy that will make you wince and laugh out loud more than once, and sometimes at the same time. While it is a little rough around the edges, Routines features several top flight performances and a great, weird as hell story. And, as I said, it will make you laugh. Hard. Michael Bugard and Anita Nicole Brown are an amazing on screen couple. If you’re a fan of mega low budget dark comedies or if you’re an adventurous movie fan, you should definitely check out Routines when it’s released. It’s well worth your time. See it, see it, see it.

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Routines, Bryan Kristopowitz