Montage! Montage! Montage!

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle

Directed by: David Russo
Opening on Nov.19
★★★ out of 5

Sometimes it is worth going to a movie because it is removed from what most of us typically go to the theatre to see. Such a movie would be The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle. Here is a film that is as original and bizarre as its title suggests. It is the feature film debut by Seattle filmmaker David Russo, who has effectively crafted an eclectic, postmodern comedy.

Little Dizzle is about Dory (Marshall Allman), a data entry worker who — after going on a blowout rant at work that had no doubt been building his entire life — is fired and forced to take a job as a night janitor at an office building. There he makes friends with the very funny O.C. (Vince Vieluf), to whom most of the movie’s comedic moments are owed. He reminds me of everyone’s favourite uncle, quick-witted with unabashedly lewd remarks. Dory, O.C. and the rest of the night shift don’t know it, but they are guinea pigs for the research company they clean for.

The research company has dropped big bags of experimental, chemically engineered cookies into the trash, which the crew starts consuming in quantities unfit for any cookie consumption, experimental or not. The cookies are designed to warm in your mouth, to have that fresh out of the oven taste, “just like your mom used to make.” After the crew eats the cookies, the men start experiencing severe flu-like symptoms and wild hallucinations. The suffering only ends one way, and it involves little blue fish, one of which is named Little Dizzle. I’m not even going to go down the road of attempting to explain that in more detail. While the movie is eccentric, it takes itself seriously, and is convincing.

There is a lot going on in Little Dizzle, and Russo is an eclectic director, balancing many different elements together. The movie is both a buddy comedy, a slapstick comedy, and is balanced with serious content. There are also long, frequent injections of montages, both live action and animated. It takes an uncommon talent to bring together all those things in one piece, but Russo does it effectively enough.

When Dory and his crew find out they have been exploited, the characters suffer sincerely and feel disenfranchised with the corporation they work for. There is a low key, indirect social statement about capitalism and corporate exploitation, best summed up by O.C.’s remark, “We don’t stand a chance against product research.” There is also a recurring theme of the power of apologies, both for the apologizer and for the forgiver. Little Dizzle’s characters keep screwing up big time, usually for no good reason. Sincere apologies can be more than just a social nicety; they can be a powerful release from mental agony.

But what the movie is most about is montage. The live action montages depict everything from highly stylized janitorial duties to the journey of a message in a bottle. The animated ones are typically used to depict hallucinations. Russo excecuted the animation for the movie as well, and seems to enjoy creating the montages more than anything else. The animated ones in particular are hypnotic and the most enjoyable to watch. All of these montages take up a large chunk of the film’s runtime, and if they didn’t exist I suspect there would not be enough material for a feature length movie.

The best thing The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle has going for it is that it is visually original. Had it been staged more conventionally, I doubt it would have left as much of an impression.
While the film’s substance is moderately effective, I don’t see it working well enough to stand on its own.

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle plays at Cinematheque from Nov. 19-28.