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Great World of Sound

Great World of Sound is a mildly amusing Glengarry Glen Ross/Boiler Room for the record industry.


Martin (Pat Healy) gets a job at a record company, complete with its own The Office-esque quirky characters: a Tony Robbins-esque boss trying to motivate his employees; a meek guy in a suit just trying to play by the rules; and finally Martin's partner, Clarence (Kene Holliday), an enthusiastic guy who raves about things as mundane as coffee. The job is to sign new artists who can make the company, and the agents, a fortune. However, it requires a financial investment on the artists' part, so the job really is to get the money from the aspiring artist. After learning the methods, Martin and Clarence start auditioning acts, hitting the road looking for more clients, much to the chagrin of Martin's wife (Rebecca Mader). When they discover an actual talent, Martin shares the investment fee, which obviously makes him vulnerable to the company's scheme. There are a few random inappropriate moments--as well as some pretty bad music acts--which provides socially awkward humor, but none of this is laugh-out-loud material.


The cast fully commit to this little film with fully realized performances. Healy is the working stiff who doesn't question the bigger picture. Martin has issues with his wife he doesn't even recognize or articulate; he's just all about maintaining the status quo. Holliday, on the other hand, is the more boisterous character. His Clarence is eccentric, and the job allows his personality to focus on something. Some of Clarence's freak-outs are a little bit too convenient, as if the film is trying too hard for the laugh. Still, Healy and Holliday as their characters clearly become more comfortable with each other as the film progresses, showing the natural evolution of a partnership. Mader plays the ever-suffering spouse, a truly supportive partner who's getting left out. You sympathize with her. Meanwhile, the supporting players totally set up the world of the film, especially John Baker as the boys' boss, the ultimate salesman, commanding his subordinates to do what he says.


For his first feature, director Craig Zobel has all the basics down. He cuts scenes together smoothly, but some of the camera work tries to take advantage of handheld when it's really not necessary. Still, it's never egregiously distracting. Zobel also gets the performances out of his actors. They all portray the characters the film designs. Where Great World of Sound falters is on how repetitive it is as the action goes through the rigmarole of auditioning bad singers and making the same pitch over and over. If the acts or the sales pitches were hilarious, it would be perfectly fine to spend the whole movie there, but ultimately they are just versions of the same idea. And the music is drab and monotonous, probably on purpose, but it gets irritating as the film progresses. Zobel does show potential, however—we should watch out for his next effort.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.