Review: 79 PARTS Is An Ambitious Retro Action-Comedy That Doesn’t Quite Work

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Ryan O'Callaghan and Johnny Solo in Ari Taub's 79 PARTS Photo Credit: Naoko Takagi.

79 Parts is a new retro action-comedy film directed by Ari Taub. The film tells the story of a struggling law student who, trying to finish his degree in an attempt to get his wrongly convicted father out of prison, takes a loan to pay for his tuition from his degenerate best friend’s gangster uncle, getting him into a lot of trouble when he can’t pay it back.

One of the biggest problems with this film is that the story is far too convoluted for its own good. There are hints of promise here and there, but the film does not live up to its potential as a throwback action-comedy. Because there is so much going on in the plot, it takes a good amount of time for the film to get set up. When the true story finally gets going, it is relatively amusing, but it takes so long to get going that the film is almost over by the time it does.

Another issue with the film is that it simply isn’t funny. This is one of those mean-spirited comedies that finds humor by making fun of people. The good news is that no one is free from this film’s ridicule, but the bad news is that it is blanketly offensive. In all likelihood, an indie movie like this isn’t likely to make a big enough splash to stir up a big controversy, but it’s probably best to stay away if you are easily offended.

The character development in the film is somewhat weak too, but that is a flaw that is typical of ensemble-driven films like this. We don’t get to spend enough time with any of the characters for them to become truly developed or likable. Even the character who is (arguably) the protagonist, Jack, isn’t given much of a personality. Unfortunately, the film relies far too much on archetypes, and as such, doesn’t reach the levels of effectiveness it should.

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Ryan O’Callaghan and Johnny Solo in Ari Taub’s 79 PARTS Photo Credit: Naoko Takagi

However, despite the lackluster characters which they were given, the actors are legitimately trying in their roles and show that they have the potential to shine should they get a shot with a better script. The biggest name in the film is Eric Roberts, and he is also the best part, having a small but fun supporting turn. Aidan Redmond is also a highlight in the cast as the “antagonist”, giving an enjoyably over-the-top performance as the villain. Additionally, the lead and his sidekick, Ryan O’Callaghan and Johnny Solo, have solid chemistry together.

On a technical level, the film was a mixed bag. There are a few areas in which the film shows its low budget nature. The most noticeable issue with the film’s execution is some issues with audio and ADR. In a few scenes, the dialogue recording is distractingly bad. Also frustrating is the editing, particularly towards the beginning of the film. When the film is introducing the characters, some cheap and unprofessional gimmicks are used, but thankfully, this is soon abandoned.

That being said, the film did something that makes it stand out in technical terms above some other low-budget retro films: it was shot on actual celluloid. The entire film was shot on 16mm, and while that may seem like a small thing, it does help the film more than you would believe. The celluloid look helps to immerse you in the era, partially counteracting the ridiculousness of the script that draws you out of the story.

Overall, 79 Parts wasn’t great, but there are some things that make it worthy of your time. Hardcore action-comedy fans will likely enjoy this, but otherwise, it isn’t particularly essential viewing.

79 Parts is now available on VOD.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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