Motivational Growth (2013) Review

motivational growth1

When Ian’s television set breaks down, his entire world breaks down with it. Living like a hermit, his television (nicknamed Kent) was the only thing keeping him going. Ready now to commit suicide in his bathroom, a fungal growth under his sink starts talking to him. It calls itself The Mold and convinces Ian to go on a journey with him. The Mold decides to get Ian back on his feet, and it may have other plans for him as well.

It sounds heavy but Motivational Growth is brought to us like an airy, breezy film. Ian quickly breaks down the fourth wall, narrating his life to us in person. He is played very sympathetically by Adrian DiGiovanni. His philosophy on life he illustrates wonderfully with a little speech while sitting on the toilet. He is wonderfully expressive about his sad state of mind.

The Mold is voiced by the always great Jeffrey Combs, better known from a couple of Star Trek series and many other TV shows. We only hear his voice, and the Mold itself looks like a dark green, eyeless Jabba the Hutt living in a disgusting corner of his bathroom. The special effects on the mold are barely acceptable, not better than the effects on Jabba the Hutt in fact, back in the 80s. The extreme close-ups on its mouth don’t help either. It just flaps its mouth like a plastic object, but at least it is a practical effect, because this is a low-budget film and any attempt at a computerized effect would have been horrible.

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The Mold knows, Jack. The Mold knows.

The film floats on a lot of witty monologues and dialogues. Most of it works, but not all side characters are that great at acting, and their personalities are taken too far to the extreme. DiGiovanni does a good job though and thank heavens because he carries the whole thing, and the story is quite a funny, quirky one. Combs is great with the dialogue that he is given, but the lines for the Mold are laid on thick. He sounds like a car salesman and an uncle trying to impersonate a motivational speaker. It takes a while to get used to.

The romance subplot is incredibly unrealistic but that is ok because the whole time the movie plays around with what is real and what is some fungus-induced hallucination. We, like Ian, don’t even know anymore. But after floating on this film for more than an hour and grasping at plot points, it starts to get a bit tedious. There is too much weirdness going on and not enough storytelling to keep me engrossed in Ian’s fate.

Director and writer Don Thacker does a whole lot with a small amount of money. The whole movie basically plays out in Ian’s apartment, which is wonderfully gross. Parts of the story are suddenly told as pixelated animated sequences which look quite alright, and 8-bit music is incorporated in the background. At other times, this film comes close to a David Lynch nightmare. The creature effects are nicely varied and squirmingly gross. Overall, the film has some nice effects and fun dialogues to offer, and that what-the-hell factor of a talking mold that is worked out quite well.


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