I love screeners. It affords me the ability to see movies I would never get around to viewing. Case in point: Closing Escrow. If it were not for the package FedExed to me a month or so ago, not only would I have not gone to see it, I would have had no idea it was even made. And seeing as it is on a limited release schedule this weekend, I figured it was time to give this movie a bit of air time. I’m not entirely sure they want the kind of exposure I’m going to give to them though . . .
Closing Escrow is a little independent comedy that follows three families through the process of buying a new house. It stars Andrew Friedman and Patty Wortham as Tom and Dawn Ernst, a strange couple looking to buy a house for all the wrong reasons. Basically, Dawn is insane and has bullied Tom into wanting a new home because she doesn’t like the fact he shared their current home with his ex-wife. To help them in their efforts they’ve found themselves a crazy, unlicenced realtor named Richard (Ryan Smith).
We’re also introduced to a black power couple Tamika and Bobby White (April Barnett and Cedric Yarbrough). Uppity, rich lawyers, they’re looking for a new trendy home befitting their lifestyle. Helping them in the endeavor is an internal bigot and strange woman named Hillary (Wendi McLendon-Covey). Lastly, the most normal couple of the three is Allen and Mary Lawton (Rob Brownstein and Colleen Crabtree). They’re you’re basic white suburban family who always, it turns out, want what their neighbors have. Helping them house hunt is their super-cool neighbor Peter (Bruce Thomas).
What the writers and directors (Armen Kaprelian and Kent G. Llewellyn did double duties) were trying to do was to poke fun at the extremely stressful situations involved with buying and selling a home. I recall vividly the disagreements my wife and I had during our home hunting days and remember even more distinctly the crookedness of home financing. So without a doubt, there is quite a bit of material to choose from that can be manipulated into a workable comedy. Problem is the writers didn’t make fun of the house buying experience, they instead chose to create ridiculous couples that, in their own way, are supposed to be whimsical and entertaining. This is the easy way out and, as far as I’m concerned, ultimately the reason Closing Escrow falters.
I guess I was supposed to find the relationship Dawn and Tom had amusing on some level. I can’t imagine why anyone would marry a psychotic person (she set fire to his lawn and has a knack for killing rabbits and stuffing them in mailboxes). The equally crazy realtor working with them confused me further – who would remotely remain working with someone who destroys homes so the asking price would be lowered? Perhaps it’s funny for a few seconds but after the third and fourth house, it just doesn’t wok anymore. Equally unimpressive was the use of Reno 911! stars, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Cedric Yarbrough. The writers started the job correctly by having their roles interact in the movie, but they didn’t have any pizzazz. The best they could come up with was to have Covey say thing and react to Yarbrough based purely on black stereotypes. Overall, very unimaginative.
Thankfully, Closing Escrow won’t be in theaters long taking up valuable screen real estate What could have been a hilarious movie quickly reveals itself to be a ho-hum affair. Personally I would rather refinance my house another dozen times than put myself through watching this movie again. Recommendation: foreclose on this property – the owners are deadbeats.