"Bart Got a Room," one of five competitors in the Anchorage International Film Festival feature category that was won by the risk-taking Australian film "Streetsweeper," is quite funny at times. Which is a good thing. The gags act like heavy makeup to hide a blowzy tale -- the gags, and the movie's Hallmark Card of a forced feel-good ending.
Written and directed by Brian Hecker and set in Florida's retirement belt, "Bart Got a Room" is populated by aged yentas, middle-aged divorced parents and overheated teenage gonads. Its ample Jewish-humor shtick made me think of Mel Brooks.
Danny Stein (played with sweet adolescent insecurity by Steven Kaplan) is a horny high school senior, desperate to find a prom date. He longs to look cool and take someone with preternatural sexual status -- for example, the classic innocent blonde shiksa Alice (Ashley Benson). One after another, however, the girls Danny seems to be interested in slip through his fingers, while his best friend practically from crib days, Camille (Alia Shawkat), is available and offering to be his date.
Meanwhile, it looks like every guy in his class not only has a hot chick lined up for prom night, but already has the limo and the hotel room reserved. One of them is Bart who, by implication (since we don't meet him until the end), is the biggest nebbish in South Florida. Knowing that even Bart got a room makes every parent dread the horrible meaning should his or her son go dateless that all-important night.
All along, Danny is being advised by two losers who, of course, think they're anything but: his pathetic skirt-chaser of a father, Ernie (William H. Macy), and his friend Craig (Brandon Hardesty).
The movie passes the time with coarse sexual joking, some of it icky and much of it over the top. Bart shows up eventually and, strange to say (given everyone's views of the young man), he's not at all a wuss but attractively rugged, like a Cuban-Jewish gangster. Easy to see why Bart has nabbed not just a room but a whole suite.
Crisis, angst, tables turning -- through it all, Danny emerges with a date and the realization that he's a mench with bankable cool and the right values. Good for commercial success, that.