Movie Review: (1996) Drawing Flies

The lead cast, less Jason Lee, of Drawing FliesDrawing Flies
Directed and written by Matthew Gissing and Malcolm Ingram

Drawing Flies, 1996 release from View Askew Productions, may feature several actors from Kevin Smith’s Clerks and Mallrats, but expecting a romp with the same cinematic quality as either is slightly off the mark.

A tale of some slackers attempting to make do on welfare, Drawing Flies tells a story of social abandonment from a perspective akin to other View Askew films, strangely with the setting of a search for the infamous Sasquatch.

Jason Lee, now much more famous than he was in 1996, puts in an efficient performance, but he doesn’t make the movie. While he does put in some of the film’s most solid performances, the prominence he’s given in packaging (as evidenced on IMDB, it’s not like I’ve seen the packaging myself) is strange, considering he shares screentime with several other leads — including Jason Mewes, famous for portraying Jay of Jay and Silent Bob. Late in the movie, the decision becomes clear, but it may puzzle some viewers looking for a Jason Lee-centric movie.

Mewes may elicit laughter with his antics as the taller half of the duo, but without Kevin Smith’s quiet repose — though he does make a quick appearance as “John,” Mewes doesn’t quite convince in this picture. Still, he manages to be one of the most entertaining aspects of the film, which is a testament to Mewes’ vaguely exasperated vocal style: It may not be convincing, but it sure keeps a light humor in the frame.

Jason Lee in Drawing FliesMusically, Drawing Flies stands out for its use of mostly unknowns to set mood. For this, Gissing and Ingram ought to be applauded; though this film certainly didn’t launch any careers, it does further the notion that music in films need not be from the hottest, hippest artists of the day to be effective.

All told, Drawing Flies is an interesting film in some respects, but those looking for the comedic romps associated with the View Askewniverse should turn elsewhere. Still, there’s quality to be had in this low-budget independent film, even if it doesn’t quite live up to all expectations.

With a well-crafted plot and some fun twists, Gissing and Ingram’s directorial debut (and Gissing’s only directorial entry) is a little hit-and-miss, but at only 70 minutes, the little bit of investment put into watching this film pays off.

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