For the last seven months my friend Robert Benfer (or “Knox,” as many of you know him) has been working on a feature-length sock puppet movie. When he first told me about the project it sounded like a “Ha ha wouldn’t it be funny if…” sort of deal rather than something I actually expected him to go on and make. But then a few weeks later I got a script in my inbox. And a little while after that he was actually filming stuff.
So here we are, seven months later, and Robert Benfer has made a feature-length sock puppet movie. And it’s actually really good.
Super-low-budget movies are always hit or miss. Often independent filmmakers will ignore the fact that they don’t have a professional lighting rig or trained actors and go on and film their movie as if they did. The result is usually a boring, unwatchable mess. I’m sorry, but your friend Ron isn’t a good enough actor to make us understand his inner torment through subtle glances and stares. And no, those two work-lights you got at Home Depot are not going to make your basement scene “super creepy and awesome.”
Then there are the independent filmmakers who understand the limitations of their budget and use those limitations to make their movies better. Robert has done this with “The Fracktaplots,” and to such a degree that I can honestly say the movie would probably be considerably less funny if he had somehow acquired a million dollars to film it with.
Take an early scene in the film where the main character, Mick, gets a call from his girlfriend. His cell phone hovers up from below the screen, tied with rubber-bands to a large stick, and then stops near Mick’s head. It’s so silly looking that you can’t help but laugh. If Robert had a budget for this movie I guarantee you this shot would have been far less hilarious.
The entire movie is filled with similar visual gags. In fact, “The Fracktaplots” is visually hilarious period. Each and every sock puppet is funny to look at and funny to watch, and they stay funny for the entire length of the film. Combine this with the fact that everything is actually well shot, and you have a movie that’s surprisingly entertaining just to watch. Having read the script beforehand I knew that the dialogue was going to be great, but I really was surprised by how much the visuals added to the experience. I expected the socks to essentially act as a blank slate to Robert’s writing, but they provide something new here, something that makes watching “The Fracktaplots” a completely unique and weird experience.
Beyond the insane sock puppet visuals is your standard “Robert Benfer Nonsense Story-line” driven by consistently funny dialogue and AMAZING VOICE ACTING (I do two voices in the movie.) There really wasn’t a boring moment in the entire thing. From start-to-finish I was entertained, and that’s far more than I can say about most movies I’ve seen lately.
“The Fracktaplots” comes out in March, and will be available for sale at:
You can watch the trailer here:
And see a scene from the film (with me in it!) here: