Do Not Disturb: An Ode to Mundanity


God bless rich, talented parents, for without them, a whole bunch of spoiled, solipsistic kids with credit cards for brains might be holding up corner candy stores instead of making innocuous films that no one really wants to watch other than the relatives of everyone involved.

Here the sperm donor is one of the great film composers of recent decades, Danny Elfman. From writing the themes for The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives to being the music score producer and/or composer for the likes of Good Will Hunting, Dead Presidents, Corpse Bride, and Mars Attacks!, Elfman has transformed many good films into much more triumphant ones for the senses.

His daughter Mali, who's an attractive 5'8", ecologically concerned, and whom I'm sure is a blast to hang with, seems to be lacking the talent gene, or so far is safeguarding it from prying eyes. Here as producer/actress/co-writer of Do Not Disturb, she has noted what inspired her to depart on this journey of mangled creativity: "I came up with the idea after attending Comic-Con, when my apartment was flooded and I was housed in a hotel for three months. Live in a hotel long enough and you see a lot of crazy people."

Look into a mirror and you see only one.

Anyway, to get her vision on screen, Mali pulled together five directors to film five shorts that all take place in the same hotel room, 316. Each director had a day to film his or her vision. All seem to have started and ended their segments with an incomplete screenplay.

In the opening episode, "Duccio's Madonna," written by Christie Ko and directed by Eric Balfour, an embittered man, Bart Denison (Harris Goldberg), calls up an automated hooker service to get a blonde prostitute up to his room. Sherry (Maureen Flannigan), a brunette, arrives with three dildos and a butt plug in her pocketbook. The gent, however, just wants to lie on a bed, play dead, and have the gal read his prewritten eulogy. Disgusted that she won't be giving oral sex to a customer, Sherry leaves the room without being paid and without her butt plug, but not before sharing that she was molested as a child by the actor who played Grandpa on The Munsters. A maid then steps in to save the day for the prone Bart.

In "Rocketman," Frank (Eric Balfour), an astronaut who's just returned from a foreign planet with a suitcase that lights up, reunites with his wife, who turns out to be an alien with a lizard's tongue.

Next is "Prom," in which two boys from the South, one gay and one a footballer, might wind up sharing a bed in room 316. With all of the charm and wit of a forgotten eggplant deconstructing in the back of your fridge, they chatter away and chatter away.

The next two, "Intrinsic" and "Death Takes a Holiday Inn," which I had no idea were separate stories since they share the same actors and characters, has something to do with the black market for organ transplants, and includes a dead man lacking a kidney stating emphatically, "Mother Teresa could have snapped and killed us all if given different circumstances."

And Mali Elfman might have developed several clever thoughts in her head if she had read some Balzac and Trollope.

But in the end, Do Not Disturb is not unassailably dreadful—and, in fact, Diva Zappa as the maid, Troy Garity as a blood-phobic Mafioso, and Flannigan are quite fine--but the whole venture comes off as little more than an innocuous student project that should have stayed in the classroom. Instead, starting May 1, you'll be able to watch it on VOD, iTunes, Cinema Now, Blockbuster, and more. - Brandon Judell

brandon.jpgMr. Judell is currently teaching "Queer Theater" and "Intro to Mass Communications" at The City College of New York and is Coordinator of The Simon H. Rifkind Center. He has written on film for The Village Voice,, The New York Daily News, Soho Style, and The Advocate, and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's Spike Lee Interviews (University Press of Mississippi) and John Preston's A Member of the Family (Dutton).