Danny Plotnick, a critical essay

The film Dumbass from Dundas shot on location in Dayton Nevada and released in 1988 is one of Danny Plotnick's 18 films released to date. Despite going through the usual independent film making woes which included the camera eating through three rolls of film, an inebriated lead actress and a boom operator passing out from the excessive desert heat, the film was completed. This film serves as an example of Danny Plotnick's uncanny ability to squeeze out comedy out of an otherwise awkward situation.

The end result was a six minute and 40 second story about a dysfunctional duo abandoned by their so called friends. The story follows the two through their initial abandonment and captures moment after moment of their failed attempts to escape the desert.

Danny's knack for attempting to combine low brow with high brow is one of his filmmaking traits that makes his works so intriguing to watch. Dumbass from Dundas is no exception considering the context of the main characters' situation. The two are initially abandoned from two different cars, tossed out like a used candy wrapper only to be left stranded in the middle of a desert road. To make matters worse the abandoned duo can't get along with each other which ultimately set up their situation of self denial and utter failure. It's this film's ability to relate to its viewers on a somewhat emotional level that makes it so captivating to watch. Regardless of your social status the feeling of abandonment is an emotion most people can relate to. It's this ability to focus in society's awkward and shunned situations while keeping the human element within his films that draws the viewer's in.

What makes this film entertaining however is Danny's ability to capture the comedic aspect out of uncomfortable situation. Being abandoned isn't a topic typically focused on when relating to a comical standpoint, but in this case Danny Plotnick doesn't hesitate to step up to the plate. For one he exploits the characters personality flaws in terms of their self denial of their situation. Neither of the two main characters wanted to admit that they were abandoned but it's this reluctance to accept their fate that adds comedy to their predicament. Their inability to work together is the second major factor that leads to the uncomfortable situations they would eventually put themselves in. The result of their incompatibility to work with one another will lead to failure after failure in their attempts to get a ride home which ironically only serves to extend their time together. What makes the comedic feel within Dumbass from Dundas unique is the vantage point from which the film is presented to the viewer. What invokes the laughter and sometimes the nervous giggles from watching this film is primarily due to the unpleasant and uncomfortable circumstances in which the characters are placed in. This film allows you to take in and experience their dilemma in a sort of centralized way. As a result the viewer can be left with a subjective feeling much like knowing something you shouldn't have when being told a joke.

Dumbass from Dundas maybe one of those films that some people will be quick to criticize as a low brow Americana film but what it represents is much more. What Plotnick produces is a vantage point into our society at a situation most people would rather not acknowledge. It's this reluctance to follow the mainstream and his attitude to be true to oneself that leads him to produce low budget films such as this that can invoke a unique reaction from his audience.

--Kristian Clemens, 2006.

Work Cited

Plotnick, Danny, (2006). Danny Plotnick. 23, September 2006 http://www.hi-beam.net/mkr/dp/dp-bio.html

"Scumbag Super 8: Danny Plotnick I'm Not fascinating." Fringecore Magazine 2006. 25, September 2006 http://www.fringecore.com/magazine/m1-5.html

Danny Plotnik