Kringle Time - a dark comedy about childhood heroes and their dark secrets. - AmNews Curtain Raiser

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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Kringle Time - a dark comedy about childhood heroes and their dark secrets.

 

Kringle Time - a dark comedy about childhood heroes and their dark secrets. 

Kringle Time follows the life of Jerry (Benny Elledge) who discovers the creepy truth about his childhood idol, a sad Frosty-the-Snowman knock-off, named Kringles who is the centerpiece of the popular children show—Kringle Time. Directed by Matthew Lucas with a screenplay by Zan Gillies, this film falls into the dark comedy genre very neatly.  

The film begins with Jerry, young, watching Kringle Time, while desperately trying to escape his parents' constant bickering. It’s clear that this kid lives in a toxic environment, in a small town and that he’s emotionally neglected. Fast-forward to 25 years later, and Jerry is working as a station manager on the very show, “Kringle Time,” which is on Public Access. This is a beloved children’s show with all the usual trappings: a cuddly, non-threatening costumed character (snowman); wacky songs and silly dances performed by artistic local teens; and a hometown obsession developed over generations of residents loving this character and show, giving their tiny, tiny town something special.

Jerry’s obsession with the show, the character, and the man, Herb (Vernon Wells) who plays Kringle, is so deep, that’s he’s actually his son-in-law.

We are a few minutes into the film when Kringles, in his costume (mask), dies mid-broadcast in front of the cast, crew, and Jerry. The role is vacated. Now it’s put up or shut up time for Jerry. He has to deal with two things: his desire to become Kringle, even if it means suppressing his vision for the character; and the awful secrets about Herb only he knows after opening a safe found in the old Kringle dressing room — deep secrets that complicate the nature of the character, Kringle

The impact of learning these secrets is like being thrown into the center of a hurricane. Jerry is broken-hearted, moving in recovery mode, he attempts to soothe the cast of characters that work on Kringle Time while trying to save the show and his hero’s reputation. Good luck with that!  


It’s clear to everyone but Jerry, that the old “Kringle” isn’t the beloved snowman that helped him cope with his horrible childhood. But for poor old Jerry, he’s living the mantra that the show must go on but he clashes with the station’s executive director Daphne (Alyssa Keegan) and Mayor Jorkins (Jeff Wincott) two figureheads opposing Jerry and his tumultuous experience in trying to change Kringle or expose the secrets.

Struggle. Struggle. Struggle, this is Jerry’s life and to add fuel to the fire, the crew does not respect him. Is it a cliché storyline? You bet it is. But it’s truth time for old Jerry. He either has to give up the goods, tell the truth and destroy Kringle’s legacy or keep his beloved show alive, at the expense of countless victims. Oh, Jerry, the truth isn’t made for the weak.  


Kringle Time is director Matthew Lucas’s first feature and he does a good job balancing the dark comedic tone throughout the film. I’m not impressed with the actors and that’s not to say, that they are bad because they are not. They are pedestrian, boring, unremarkable, and as memorable as a piece of white bread with mayonnaise. The screenplay lays out the clues in an all-too-predictable path and does not go beyond a C+ movie story level. But here’s a fun fact about B and C movies — they have the power to come back. This might be the start of the Kringle Time legacy. 

 AWARDS & FESTIVALS: 

 - Brooklyn Film Festival (2021) Official Selection. 

   * Winner: Best Narrative Feature (Audience Award)

   * Winner: Best Actor

   * Winner: Outstanding Achievement in Style

CAST

Benny Elledge as Jerry

Vernon Wells as Herb

Alyssa Keegan as Daphne

Jeff Wincott as Mayor Jorkins

Gigi Edgley as Layla

Usman Ali Ishaq as Naveed

Tess Higgins as Serena

Mike Zinkham as Ernest

Torsten Kellar as Gunther

Jake Flum as Mark

Naomi Rahn as Jasmine

Directed by Matthew Lucas

Written by Zan Gillies

Kringle Time is available on VOD on July 27.

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