David N Reyes
David N Reyes
"I'm Texas AF!"
"…the hell does that even mean, bro?"
"I don't know, man. Nothing. Everything."
And therein lies pretty much how "I" feel about this movie. For me, I felt that "Texas AF" had a hard time finding its focus and what it really wanted to say. Maybe it's nothing, maybe it's everything - and maybe we'll never know. With that said, there are definitely many positives to be found overall, but there are also a few issues nonetheless. I think Comedy is one of the hardest genres to pull off in the independent realm; it's all about timing, and that's where just about everyone's work tends to suffer a bit without the experience needed to sharpen the jokes and get the most out of their potential. "Texas AF" ends up really requiring the pair of lead characters, Eddy and Flaco, to thrive off each other, and I'm not 100% convinced that truly happened. They've got their moments for sure, both as a tandem pair and as individuals, but for the most part, it seems like Eddy's straight-man is way too straight, and Flaco's brand of over-the-top doesn't feel like the right fit to be the yin to the yang.
Much of the film feels mired in arguments and discussions that could be tightened up to alleviate much of the dead space. "Texas AF" tends to traffic in terrain without keeping the goals in mind at all times and ends up wandering a bit as a result, which in terms, makes the audience restless as they get to the point. There's a whole lot of 'dudes' in the dialog here, and that even extends right into the characters with Eddy playing 'The Dude' from "The Big Lebowski" early on in the movie - as they head to a costume party. While the occasional 'dude' can feel natural, too many of 'em can feel redundant and/or forced, leaving the dialogue feeling a bit uninspired & all of us watching - wishing they'd choose to use their words.
In short, it felt to me that a lot of the Comedy came across as a little uneven and a little less potent than hearing the conversations of people hangin' outside your local convenience store. Supporting characters like Monica and Amanda make an impact and provide laughs that'll rival what we get from the main duo, but they do it with much more limited screen time. You get about an hour or so into "Texas AF," and as a viewer, you're still desperately trying to figure out what the movie is ultimately about and where it's trying to go. Considering there's only another half hour after that point, it's a movie that is quickly running out of time. They're milkin' what they've got, and they're milkin' it hard – and I suspect they fully know that. "Texas AF" is attempting to be one of those coming-of-age comedies in the same way that you'd experienced with "Can't Hardly Wait" or the Kevin Smith cannon, but it's coming up short on the big laughs. As to whether or not you'd pin that on the writing of David N. Reyes, or the acting of Donato De Luca & David Allan Barrera as the leads, it's much harder to say. Yet there is something amiss here that seems to prevent "Texas AF" from being an effective Comedy that'll have you laughing out loud. It's interesting, and I kept on watching. I'll happily give it that - but whether or not it's the kind of funny viewers are looking for is way more up for debate.
Filming-wise, I felt like "Texas AF" was on solid enough ground. It's not the kind of film that really needs a lot of intricate camera work, so most of what we see are fairly standard shots, which is fine. All-in-all, it's visually metaphorical in a strange way – there is nothing but a wealth of opportunity for more imagination in what we see onscreen that seems to parallel the way things are written - as well as the acting & how much De Luca and Barrera get into their characters. We never really move too far past that surface level of dude-bro culture and into substantial plot devices. To their credit, both Eddy & Flaco seem likable, and I feel like we want them to get to wherever it is they wanna go in life - whenever they might end up actually sorting that out, but "Texas AF" ends up feeling like we're never gonna get there in the amount of space there is. Where this movie ends up, examining the lengths we'll go to in order to look past the flaws in those we consider our best friends, that's where "Texas AF" finds a significant win and gets to the heart of the story. Still, admittedly, it almost feels like we arrive at that point by accident by the time we get there. This movie does eventually get to a spot where it feels like it's cohesive and has a direction, even though that nearly all occurs as the ending creeps in. So it's like, "Texas AF" seems to finally find some secure footing & what'll work, and it wraps things up quickly from there.
Don't get me wrong… I've got respect and love for anyone who can commit to a project as huge as making a full-length movie, and I admire those who follow through with it all, which remains the case here. Yet I think "Texas AF" needed a lot more from the script, in the Comedy, and within the character development, but of course, that is just my opinion. As to whether or not the viewers out there will feel like this movie is "nothing" or it's "everything," – I guess time will tell. I'm gonna split the difference with "Texas AF" and go middle of the road with two and a half stars out of five. The right pieces are all here, and the potential & capabilities exist; it's just the fine art of making it all fit into a more clear and more concise picture that seems to be hindering this film - and Reyes this time around.