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Skills Like This (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 12, 2023


SKILLS LIKE THIS (2008)


Starring Spencer Berger, Brian D. Phelan, Gabriel Tigerman, Kerry Knuppe, Jennifer Batter, Ned Bellamy, Marta Martin, Zach Cumer, Tom Doyle, Amy Rose Drucker, Patty Figel, Jeremy Make, Marian Rothschild and Reverend Leon Kelly.


Screenplay by Spencer Berger.


Directed by Monty Miranda.


Distributed by Shadow Distribution. 88 minutes. Not Rated.


Is committing a felony an appropriate cure for career malaise?


This is the question asked by indie film Skills Like This, in which a struggling playwright of dubious talent gets over his latest theatrical failure by impulsively deciding to rob a local bank.


It’s not a well thought-out plan – mostly done on the fly – which is perhaps why it actually worked. The guy really doesn’t care about the money – later he is completely ambivalent at the idea of whether he should keep it or give it back.


However, it begs the question – once you’ve felt that kind of excitement can you really go back to failure as usual? What if robbery is his one true skill?


Also, it brings up a side complication. Once you have robbed a cute bank teller, can you really just go back and ask her out like nothing ever happened?


As you can see, Skills Like This is trying it’s damnedest to be quirky and innovative – and yet in many ways it is old-fashioned and square.


Thus begins a movie that is equally charming and frustrating, often funny, and occasionally cringe-inducingly off base (the supposedly quirky scene where one of our hero’s best buddies leeringly catcalls a nine-year-old girl at a playground comes immediately to mind.).


Skills Like This is also one of the least realistic films I’ve ever seen. Not that romantic comedies – which this essentially becomes – have to be true to life, but this one is more unlikely than most.


One problem, I suppose, is that I don’t share Skills Like This’s romantic take on crime. I don’t see it as a talent or a skill or even a rite of passage, but I recognize that some people do and Skills is stubbornly non-violent, so I will give it a pass.


The relationship that Max (star and screenwriter Spencer Berger) has with gorgeous teller Lucy (Kerry Knuppe) is both terribly romantic and absolutely absurd. It’s essentially wish fulfillment for guys.


Frankly, from the way Lucy acts, she may just be the stupidest woman in the world. When she recognizes him at a bar the day of the robbery, she doesn’t turn him in, but instead hangs in a crowded bar with the man who robbed the bank. Then she invites said bank robber to her home and seduces him. Tells him to stay at her apartment for the day – even though all she really knows about this guy is that he steals things. Despite the fact that she really did not have a part in the robbery, now anyone in the world would assume she was always a co-conspirator with this guy.


I know that they are trying to make it cute and romantic, but it just makes no sense for her. It’s not like there is some smoldering sexual attraction – he’s a white, slightly dorky looking guy with a huge Afro. Lady… the 70s are over! Then later, she tries to break up with him because he stole a statue for her. He’s a thief, you knew that when you seduced him. Don’t act surprised now.


Max, on the other hand, is much more inscrutable. He continues committing little crimes but seems to get no real joy from them – and he gives away all of his proceeds. He would rather nearly destroy his old junker of a car than pay the parking ticket to get the boot off his car. He hangs out with two wacky friends with whom he seems to have little in common. He is open about his crimes to the point that he apparently wants to get caught and yet he doesn’t offer to give himself up until it all hits the fan.


Yet even though I really didn’t believe it for a second, I kind of enjoyed the quirky world that Berger has created in this little film. It was obviously built for cult acceptance, and I can see it finding its goofy little niche.


Dave Strohler


Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 1, 2009.



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