By: The Cinephiliac (Four Beers) –
Jack is up to something. He’s in the middle of a building frenzy that leads his tireless work efforts to the outdoors where its revealed what the hard work is for something sinister– or perhaps just fluffy and cute. I’m not entirely sure. Matthew Mahler has 11 minutes to build and mold the story of Jack’s shenanigans. 11 minutes for his short film to keep us intrigued, or at the least entertained.
A celebratory sip to the set designer. That’s not a fully wasted celebration. For an 11-minute short the extensive detail of Jack’s mad lab of appliances is pretty impressive. I know what you’re thinking… that’s a sorry toast. And you’re right. It is.
Uncle Mike was kind enough to loan out his tool shed under one condition. Don’t move anything!
The truth is that doing an 11-minute short film is both a hindrance and benefit. On one hand if viewers don’t enjoy it, then it’s over before you even realize. The downside is that to be successful in this realm requires great skill and ingenuity. Just ask Dave Willis and Maiellaro of Aqua Teen Hunger Force or any other creator from Cartoon Network who manages to take 11-12 minutes and place you in the midst of a situation, bring about conflict, then solve the conflict all while making you laugh throughout. What Jack Built lacks in all of these categories.
By far the most grating aspect of the film is the unrelenting score that leaves little to no space for silence or tension building. The score is a jarring mashing of 1980s influenced soundscapes. Instead of feeling authentic or homage-like, the score embraces the realm of kitschy, better coined as cheesy. The strikes of keys and heavily utilized synthesizers rocked me into a glassy-eyed stupor of malaise as the film seemed less about being a unique experience and instead a piece that just copies elements of successful films before it.
“I call it ‘chair-bed'”
You’ll need this beer to stay on the ride set up by Mahler because honestly, it’s a pretty bland ride. It’s like riding the kiddie rides at a theme park. Yeah the ride is cool because you’re giving your tired feet a break, but a trip to the bathroom would be much more interesting. The tension of What Jack Built is virtually nonexistent and the lack of story development doesn’t help either.
That’s not to say that this is a poorly made film. It’s made with the precision and care of someone knowledgeable about film and its conventions. However, What Jack Built is pretty unexceptional, bringing nothing special or unique to the table.