Review by Evan Meena
The bizarre humor of Jack Utrata strikes again with Cougar Hunting.
This “Dating Game” meets Carol Burnett sketch features a mama’s boy looking for love … with an older woman.
This short film throws us many red herrings. What seems like an erotic romp turns into a vaudeville sketch before offering a clever finale.
Marianne Goodell’s dialogue walks the line between heavy-handed stereotype and keen observation of a particular type of “modern woman and man.” As much as we’d like to say these people are uttering cartoonish dialogue … we all know people for whom such suggestive suggestions are logical when answering dating questions.
Julian Friedman aptly plays the bachelor in need of a mature hand – among other parts. Here’s the first curve… he played it straight with no affectation or stereotype. Yup, you knew he was a mama’s boy but not a joke of one. Two of the three contestants, however, followed Goodell down the rabbit-hole of lampoon easily. Susan Jane MacDonald and Maggie LaMonica played brazen hussies to the hilt, enjoying every inch of it. But Caroline Ryburn played her older lady – like Friedman – straight… straight from the heart that is. She played a real loving … “motherly” type. Again, we imagine that THIS was the twist of the piece.
Director Utrata appeared as host with just enough pander and sleaze to compliment the two shrews. Cementing our hypothesis of what this is going to be about.
By the end, no spoilers here, we see what was really afoot. There was a method to the madness of the cartoon element from the git-go. The deux-ex-machina created a sharp contrast between love and lust; reality and fantasy; and a subtle social commentary of what’s really important in this Covid-entrenched world. The fact that it was filmed within pandemic guidelines made the message even stronger and ironic.
One might say, we get to feel what Dorothy felt when she finally stopped clicking her heels.
This is the second film by Utrata I have viewed. His works seem to reflect a jaded but hopeful eye.
Sort of like “keep looking through the crazy… you might find some sanity mixed in.”
Visit production company, The Red Lipstick Gang on YouTube for this and other works.