Review by Camden Ferrell
Writer/director Alejandro Montoya Marin’s first feature, Monday, was made as a part of the Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) series Rebel Without a Crew for $7,000. His newest feature, Millennium Bugs is an enjoyable follow-up that proves that he is an emerging talent with a bright future.
It’s 1999, and in the final days of the millennium, friends Kelly and Miguel find themselves at a crossroad. Kelly has wasted her parents’ inheritance money on alcohol and drugs to numb her pain. Miguel aspires to be a comedian even though his immigrant parents want him to pursue a different path. As the world braces for Y2K, these friends find themselves equally uncertain about what comes once the clock strikes midnight. This is a fun and simple premise that evokes nostalgia while also telling a story that will resonate with lots of people.
The script for this movie is fairly witty throughout. It has some great banter between the two leads, and a lot of it does feel very natural. The main flaw with the script is that it does have a few too many pop-culture references. While Miguel’s job at the video store makes him a savvy person in this field, it seems that the references are used too frequently to be effective. Otherwise, the script does have great spacing that prevents it from losing steam.
The acting in this movie is somewhat of a mixed bag. Katy Erin, who plays Kelly, gives the best performance by far. She is witty, confident in her delivery, and she has a great screen presence. She knows how to handle the crass and comedic side of the character while also handling the more emotional and sensitive moments in the film. Her co-star, Michael Lovato, who plays Miguel, is pretty decent throughout. Some scenes feel a little weird with his delivery, and he can sometimes pale in comparison to Erin, but it’s still an enjoyable performance.
This is a movie that will most likely have a niche following. Overall, the movie worked well for me, but this is a brand of style and comedy that might not appeal to some viewers. There are some moments that feel a out of place and a little too cheesy for my tastes, but I still liked what the director was going for.
The movie will also surprise you with how personal it feels. You can feel Marin’s emotional connection through the movie especially with Miguel’s character. There are definitely cultural and generational differences that will sow conflict in immigrant families, and I think Marin captures that very well. And even though it might have been done before, he peels back Kelly’s persona to reveal a more empathetic portrait of grief and despair.
It’s very obvious by the end that this movie has all the makings of a future cult classic. It does a lot with its small budget, and there’s enough nostalgia and silliness that would make it perfect for midnight showings in the future. Even though it’s far from perfect, this is a fun film (with hopefully more to come) from the director.
Millennium Bugs is wacky, late 90’s fun, and it benefits a lot from Erin’s performance and its fun premise. Marin gets a chance to flex his directing chops and proves he’s a director to keep an eye on for years to come.
Millennium Bugs is currently screening as a part of the Dances with Films Festival (times can be found here).
One of the writers from disappointment media worked on a film playing as part of the Dances with Films Festival, but they were not involved with the writing of this review.