Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Director: Kevin Jordan
Perhaps with all of this description of the chaotic subtropical netherworld that is LA, you can understand why Goat and Fire and Smiling Fish is about as good of a descriptive title as you're going to get. The title comes from the nicknames Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish (real-life brothers Derick and Steven Martini) which their grandmother, who believed them part Indian, bestowed upon them. And, although I still really don't have a clue which one of the brothers is Goat on Fire and which is Smiling Fish, we can rest easy that this curiosity-invoking title does not play into the film at all.
What does play into the film is this:
Chris (Derick Martini) is dating a woman that weeps during sex. Chris, mild-mannered accountant that he is, worries constantly that he might be doing something wrong and agrees to give his girlfriend the space she needs. His boss orders Chris to watch his ex-soundman uncle Clive (Bill Henderson), who pushes Chris into a relationship with Italian animal wrangler Anna (Rosemarie Addeo). Meanwhile, in the other half of the inherited Valley house that Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish share, Tony (Steven Martini) is skipping from girlfriend to girlfriend while aspiring to be an actor until he finds himself tied to a female postal worker/single mother with a kid that he loves... and on the eve of both mother and child moving back to Wyoming.
All of this leads to enough intelligent jokes to please the art house audience, enough simplistic jokes to please the MTV generation, and enough romantic confusion to make just about any date weepy.
But this isn't what's really impressing about Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish. After all, romantic comedies of Goat on Fire's caliber are not impossible to find (in fact, they are fairly commonplace if you know how to play your kitsch cards), but Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish is a romantic comedy of Miramax-funded indie caliber filmed for $40,000 dollars in 12 days... in other words: dollar for dollar, Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish is one of the more entertaining movies ever made.
To its detriment, however, the layperson will neither know or appreciate the hard work and dedication that went into making a dirt-cheap romantic comedy, and they will only see Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish for yet another watch-once indie romantic comedy, part of their obligatory dating routine, and not as an extreme mark of promise and talent for a young director.
But no matter what, you will be hard pressed to watch Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish and not just end up having fun.
Aka Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire.