Comedy doesn’t Urn many laughs

The Urn

on February 28, 2008 by Amy Nicholson

Skip Usen’s feature-length sitcom about a family in Santa Monica opens like one of those wry heartwarmers where aggrieved straight man Joseph (Stanley Kamel) plays a Jewish Goldilocks: his blind dad Sol (Fyvush Finkel), an atheist and self-described “lox-and-bagel Jew” has broken taboo by cremating dear old mom and misplacing her urn under the sink, and Joe’s son Daniel (Greg Zola) has gone Hasid after two years in the Promised Land. Joseph’s wavering toward agnostic, but is unreasonably irritated that even ex-wife Zoe (Rosalee Mayeux) subscribes to tai chi.

You think you’ve worn this family-friendly yarmulke before, but then Usen splices in so many plot threads, the whole thing unravels. A head-butting llama dislodges Zoe’s clitoris; Sol swears he talks to dead people, masturbates for aliens and had a microphone shoved up his ass by a proctologist working for the FBI. Then Joe’s loutish ex-con cousin (Irwin Keyes) pops up with an evil surgeon (Armin Shimerman, channeling Peter Lorre), a carload of corpses and cannibal recipes, and a plot to steal Joe’s liver. It’s less a narrative than a shotgun pointed at whatever seems funniest at the time; regardless, few of the jokes hit. Any drama we—and Joe—feel about Daniel’s reluctance to take over his business dries up when he’s forced to overhear Sol reminisce to his mother’s ashes about their adventures in foursomes, spanking and bondage. “I’d drape a cord around your urn, but it wouldn’t be the same,” he sighs. That’s the best moment in a comedy that’s as flat and sprawling as a spilled glass of Manischewitz.

Distributor: Usen Productions
Cast: Stanley Kamel, Fyvush Finkel, Rosalee Mayeux, Greg Zola, Irwin Keyes and Armin Shimerman
Director/Screenwriter: Skip Usen
Producer: Messiah Jacobs
Genre: Comedy
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 90 min.
Release date: February 29 LA

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