June 4th, 2017
Review by Mark Schwab
Although the mockumentary genre has slowed a bit since Christopher Guest was cranking out some great ones like BEST IN SHOW and WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, television was able to utilize it well with shows like THE OFFICE. In the spirit of that television show comes writer/director Jonathan Olson's short film DR. TRUSCOT: THE BALBOA HEALTH CLINIC.
Dr. Truscot (Adam Griswold) is our "host" you could say as he speaks directly to the camera and introduces us to his wacky staff during a typical day at the health clinic. This being a comedic mockumentary, none of the characters come anywhere close to being sane with the clinic being a classic case of the professionals being much crazier than any of the patients.
For an independent short film, Olson does a good job approximating the look and feel of a show like THE OFFICE. It's decently shot and edited and there is a solid foundation for a comedic idea. Unfortunately, the characterizations are all over the map (it looked like the actors were ad-libbing at times and struggling to keep it funny); one is stoner-level zen, another is basing his character on trying to be all of the Three Stooges at once and Truscot comes off as a psychotic 1950's-era pitch person for Geritol. Now none of these actors do a bad job with this but the material they are working with just isn't funny enough to glaze over. It's jarring when we have one doctor going for low-key sarcasm followed by the receptionist suddenly incoherent in a straight jacket with a rubber chicken connected to an IV drip holder. It felt as if they were throwing every type of comedic style at the screen and testing which one worked best.
DR. TRUSCOT does move briskly enough for 12 minutes because the energy level is pitched fairly high and maybe others will find a laugh or two here. Jonathan Olson has a firm grasp on making an independent film skillfully. I'd just like to see him and his cast work with a funnier screenplay because if they find one there's no doubt they could all do good work.