Starring: James Cosmo, Nicole Steinwedell, Marnie Schulenberg
Directed by: Joseph Laraja (debut)
Written by:  Kevin Harrigan (debut)

In the mockumentary “The Golden Scallop,” the three best fried fish restaurants in the northeast gather for the 43rd annual Golden Scallop Championship, a race to complete 100 orders of seafood with an emphasis on taste and speed. Judged by the enthusiastic and TV obsessed Judge Wellington (James Cosmo), the film brings together three unique teams, a former champion looking to reclaim glory, a themed restaurant with a lot of cash flow, and a food truck whose family name has been disgraced. It’s a nice idea for a film, but perhaps writer Kevin Harrigan and director Joseph Laraja have watched one too many Christopher Guest movies.

Most of the film’s jokes come at the expense of its eccentric characters. Perhaps the most successful of these is the relationship between the Happy Hooker’s cooks Lindsay (Nicole Steinwedell) and the odd Seth (Tobias Jelinek). But with their characters come quirks that don’t exactly work. Seth’s company, an outfit where he makes teddy bears resemble dead celebrities, feels forced and unfunny. So does his cuckolding relationship in the Caped Cod kitchen.

The mockumentery genre as a whole is not all one in the same, but “The Golden Scallop” is so similar to Guest’s films that it bears pointing out. Everything from the interview structures to the line deliveries to the character quirks are stunningly similar, with mixed execution of humor. It’s almost as if an exact blueprint was followed.

Some of the film and characters provide the occasional chuckle, but “The Golden Scallop” features too many unsatisfying characters, which is the draw of a movie like this. The film moves briskly and is easy and entertaining enough to watch, but it’s more amusing than it is funny and is ultimately a little too derivative to stand out.

“The Golden Scallop” plays at the 2013 Austin Film Festival Friday, Oct. 25 at 8:15 p.m. (Rollins Theater) and Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 9:45 p.m. (Galaxy Highland Village).

For more Austin Film Festival Coverage, click here. 

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