Before I expound on the strange and lovely 'Fifty Pills' I feel compelled to tell you that I actually cheated earlier in the day and saw a non-festival film, the nature of which is sure to discredit me entirely. I was taken partially against my will (the rest of me was pretty psyched) to see 'Stick It'. You know, Bring it On, but with gymnastics in which the girl in the trailer whines, 'It isn't gymNICEtics' (That doesn't hold a candle to 'Cheer-Tator' in my educated opnion). I was half-expecting to secretly adore it, but as it turns out I may be smarter than I thought. After roughly two hours of watching bad Disney-like actresses prancing around in leotards (or as called in the film, 'tards' - charming) I was in an odd frame of mind when I settled into my seat at the Tribeca cinemas. Lucky for me, 'Fifty Pills' turned out to stick it to Stick It, easily.
The cast is the crème de la crème of indie heavy hitters; Lou Taylor Pucci (who earned his cred-card in thumbsucker), Nora Zhetner (got hers in Brick), Kristen Bell (First big screen lead but of course she is best known as the eponymous heroine of Veronica Mars) and Eddie Kaye Thomas who, interestingly enough, was mean to me in high school back when he still went by Eddie Kovelsky. Can I say that? Probably not.
Pucci is an affable protagonist as Darren, a pasty NYU freshman plucked straight out of 'the bible belt' (as Bell's character Gracie refers to it) in South Carolina. Following a rager thrown by Darren's rich kid/bad boy roommate, Coleman (John Hensley), Darren loses his scholarship when a single bottle of vodka is found in his mini-fridge. He immediately finds himself in a risky business-esque situation with, you guesses it, fifty pills that he needs to sell off by the end of the day (at 20 bucks a pop, one would think he could have sat on a bench in Washington square park for about 25 minutes to get the job done, but I suppose that wouldn't have made for a very interesting movie). The hijinks that ensue with Darren's drug deals, however, do make for an interestingfilm and are in fact the most enjoyable part of the movie. Ranging from a dominatrix living in her grandmother's basement (fantastically done by Monica Keena) to a young yuppie obsessed with Diff'rent Strokes (the aforementioned 'Kovelsky'). The string of vignettes representing each deal are kind of a cross between "go" and "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo." Fans of the mockumentary form will also recognize Jane Lynch, the upright lesbian dog trainer in "Best in Show" and the polyamorous matriarch of the Main St. Singers from "A Mighty Wind."
As Gracie, Bell does a near-perfect job of the you-make-me-want-to-be-a-better-person girl, creating a sticky situation when she discovers her crush is a drug dealer (even if it's just for the day). In one of the films few more cliched moments, however, Darren sees the error in his ways (of course not before he manages to horrendously dissapoint her) and fixes all with a slightly awkward albeit adorable first kiss. This is the big 'sex scene' of the film and surprisingly it delivers; its just sappy enough to be satisfying without being over-the-top cheese. Besides, let's face it, the movie's vice of choice is drugs. The film gives us a gritty, realistic portrait of a group of NYU freshman who are without a doubt closer to MK and Ashley's would-be college experience than oh, say, Felicity and her dictaphone.
All in all the film is a consistently amusing romp through young, downtown New York with an uber-hip soundtrack to match its uber-hip cast (eat its dust, O.C.). Definitely the most fun I've had in Tribeca since seeing Jason Priestly at Nobu. And we are definitely not in Beverly Hills anymore, Toto.