Motivational Growth (2013/14)

When was the last time you cleaned your bathroom? If it's anything within the last year and half, you have a head start on Ian Foliver (Adrian DiGiovanni.) Ian has reached a level of cleanliness, or rather lack there of, that most men only reach during their junior year of college, right before they are scooped up and cleaned up by a good woman. But for Ian that woman has never come. In fact not much has come for Ian. His trusty television, Kent, has just bailed on him and blown up, leaving Ian without much left to live for. After a year and a half of solitude, Ian decides to mix up a lethal concoction of cleaning fluids and off himself.

Much to Ians chagrin, he wakes up - and he's not alone. The mass of mold (voiced by the irrepressible Jeffrey Combs) that has been growing in the corner of his bathroom has become
sentient, and very interested in Ians life. Ian, having just failed at suicide and figuring that things just can't get any worse decides putting his faith in the talking mound of slime sitting in his bathroom. And it works - at first. Ian's life improves, he shaves, he meets a girl! With the molds direction, everyone starts coming up Ian. But then the molds tactics change and the film takes a more sinister turn.

Motivational Growth is one of the weirdest films I've ever seen. It's much more a very dark comedy or even a drama than a horror film. But don't get me wrong there are certainly enough horror elements in it to satiate the appetites of all but the most ardent horror fans. The effects are wonderful. The growth looks great, like something out of a mid 80's Amblin produced film. Creepy, but not necessarily scary, which fits the character perfectly. Had the mold been too comical, it's more sinister moments would have fallen flat. Conversely, a more sinister looking mold would rob the film of some of the fun interplay between Ian and the mold.

Similarly, writer/director Don Thacker strikes the right balance between the humoristic and the surreal. Motivational Growth turns on its heals a few times tonally, but it's never jarring enough to ruin the film. Thacker handles the difficult shifts in the film well enough, but the film could have still been a disaster without the performance of lead actor DiGiovanni. He elevates the film beyond mere curiosity, to something worth seeing based on his performance alone. His interplay with Combs' mold always leaves you wanting more.

But therein is the crux of what haunts Motivational Growth throughout the film. DiGiovanni and Combs are so good playing off each other that it makes Ians other interactions pale in comparison. The grocery delivery girl, the guy collecting the rent, even the hot girl next door stand as distractions from the main crux of the story - how Ian and the mold interact with each other.

Motivation Growth is a pretty good fun little dark comedy/horror film. It's worth seeing based upon the weirdness factor and DiGiovannis interaction with Combs alone. It's a bit too surreal and feels like the attempts to be "odd" are a bit too deliberate and don't feel organic as they should. Manufactured weirdness aside, it's still a fun watch and one of the most unique films I've seen in a long time.

*** stars out of *****

As always thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."

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