If a high concept log line was assigned to Maximillian Aguiar’s Veneer, Napoleon Dynamite meets the Invasion of the Body Snatchers would work pretty well. Of course, if that’s not eclectic and appealing enough, the film’s trio of off kilter characters are more like special needs versions of Jon Heder, and for good measure, world domination doesn’t appear to be on the agenda. So sit back and enjoy the ride – even if by the end, you’re not actually sure what the 87 minute comedy was all about.
Red hair and way more white than we remember Napoleon, Dominic Willis (Logan Diemert) certifies the pigmentation by emerging from the fade in without shame or shirt. Diemert, who helped write the feature, also chills the passing snow shower with wonder, and the classical musical accompaniment trumpets the possible rising of a new life form.
Diemert’s rudimentary vernacular and monotone delivery suggests a similar sentiment. “Although many have lost their jobs recently, I have been able to maintain my normal business schedule throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. Using proper social distancing guidelines I have been able to keep my business competitive and thriving during these uncertain times.”
Napoleon could have said it himself, and even though he’s a cocaine dealer, maybe an outer worldly explanation isn’t necessary. Willis could just be an oddball drug dealer who has sniffed too much of his own product. Either way, his resulting ascent and barefoot traverse is simply joyous.
Then it gets really odd and not just because Willis reveals that he’s in suburban Colorado to complete some sort a mission. His dead drop regimen has him inexplicably playing Hansel and Gretel with hundred dollar bills, and the c-notes leave a trail of crumbs for no one.
Willis is also strangely enamored with an electric power station and his clothes shopping trips end with him unloading the articles in a nearby lake. The transformative pods can’t be far off, and an unsuspecting repairman does the honors.
A Kodak Instamatic Camera is Willis’ weapon of choice, and afterwards, John Pritchard (Alex Pace) assumes a similar posture as Willis. Thus, the extraterrestrial game is officially afoot.
Of course, the body hijacking is executed to the sounds of a perky Christmas song and Pritchard doesn’t miss a step in shifting the lunacy into high gear. “They need eight hours of sleep to replenish? I can do it in five,” boasts the pod-based Pritchard.
The previously ensnared Blondie (Anna Lindstrom) does her part too. She tip-toes her way through and also has a thing for the power station.
Nonetheless, there isn’t a lot of out loud laughing for a comedy. Not to worry, the whimsical scenarios, out of place pop music and absurd dialogue delivered perfectly by Diemert, Pace and Lindstrom easily fulfills the comedic expectation.
The amusement left to run in triplicate, the mystery of the drama only deepens and a clue emerges that hints at a mission statement. Still, all the unrelated activity, what will finally connect the dots, and the gut grinds in anticipation of answers.
Played against the clock, the gateway narrows and lessens the chance for clarity. The window finally closes, and the credit role leaves us mostly clueless.
Even so, the accumulated glee makes it pretty hard to put aside the journey. But it still would have been nice if Aguiar could have ‘made sense of it all.’