A child goes missing and a family’s world starts falling apart. Cue the seasoned and determined detective to save the day. Pretty standard story, right?
It doesn’t take long before the tone of the film is established as our hero, Detective Skok (played by John Curran), questions the distraught parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gray (Robert Longstreet and Rhoda Griffis), about their son’s disappearance. From then on I found myself giggling every few minutes and other times bursting into laughter as the serious situation wastes no time in taking a sharp turn to the absurd.
Congratulations! is a comedy/mystery written and directed by Atlanta native Mike Brune. The crew and location (yes, singular) are Atlanta based as well. The film is definitely something to be proud of. The dead-pan humor is executed amazingly by all of the actors and the mood is very consistent. Even when the characters start to go through their dramatic downward spirals, I know I was not the only one who couldn’t help but silently grin (i.e. that moment when you think, “I probably shouldn’t laugh at this…” but you do it anyway). The whole film is very visually stimulating as well, from the composition of each shot to the insane set dressing. While there are certain points the film drags a bit, the cuts to “punch lines” are spot on and always had the audience abruptly chuckle.
By the middle of the film I personally wasn’t worried whether poor little Paul was found or not, due to just being thoroughly entertained by the whole ridiculousness of the situation. It’s a fun ride and refreshing to see in a time where we are bogged down with so many super serious, “plot goes from A-Z” crime shows. I would recommend experiencing this film with an audience or a group of friends.
Also, while it is fun flick there is a theme of existentialism gracefully sprinkled in along with it that our hero faces and that the audience can take from as well. I would bet some American currency that a majority of people who watch this will be tempted to randomly shout out, “Paul!” as they walk out of the theater.