The feature film debut of director Maceo Greenberg, Take Me To Tarzana is wildly uneven and at times laugh-out-loud hilarious. A dead guy’s dildo, a dancing stoned monkey, a Tarzan-obsessed baddie, and a logistically impossible sex scene are clear highlights. The core trio of whistleblowers – played by Andrew Creer, Samantha Robinson, and Jonathan Bennett – are great fun and serve to elevate things even when the pace slows down considerably towards the middle. A strong final act makes up for some noticeable narrative shortcomings and has several clever payoffs for our core characters. There’s an underlying message here about how much privacy matters that’s buried underneath all the schtick.
Our de facto lead character, Miles (Andrew Creer), who is described as having “the personality of a stale cracker” is being smothered into oblivion by his overbearing and vulgar boss Schmeltz (Chris Coppola) who borders on cartoonish. When Miles discovers that Schmeltz has hidden spy cameras in the bathrooms and at the female desks, he recruits cute coworker Jane (Samantha Robinson) and his stoner man-child neighbor Jameson (Jonathan Bennett) to get to the bottom of it all. Little do they know, there is more to the situation than meets the eye and they find themselves wrapped up in a data-mining conspiracy.
The characters here aren’t exactly original, but the actors do a great job with fleshing out what could’ve been little more than caricatures. My favorite was Jonathan Bennett’s Jameson (fittingly named) who is always either drunk or high in nearly every scene. The hair and wardrobe design could be improved. This is especially evident in the styling of Jameson’s wig and Juanita’s neon red locks above her seemingly random pirate eye patch. Bennett makes the hair a central part of his character, which was a smart choice considering how bad the hair itself looks at times. Owen Harn as Giorgio the Tarzan-obsessed bad guy dials it up to 11 and delivers some of the movie’s stand-out moments. Although not really a character, Miles has a dog named Izzy with a skateboarding scene that’s just too adorable not to be mentioned.
The film is weirdly-paced, with a noticeable sag in the middle portion. I loved that we got a silly arcade interlude with Jameson and a cute mini-romance between Miles and Jane, but I don’t know that either of these narrative sidequests are entirely necessary. It takes nearly a full hour for the blackmail elements of the story to come to life, and even longer to get into the Tarzan of it all. Once we get to the final act, though, Take Me To Tarzana becomes a Hangover-level comedy. From the second the title gets dropped within the movie, we are thrown full-speed into a much more exciting course. I was surprised by the amount of physical gags and humor they were able to incorporate.
Take Me To Tarzana might be a low-budget comedy with not enough to say about the broader themes and concepts it only briefly brushes over, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely without its charms. The trio at the film’s core have chemistry and once the movie takes us to the big villain’s lair, it becomes a strength that we spent so much time getting to know these characters. The bloopers in the credits show just how much fun the cast had making this, and it frequently shows through the final product. This isn’t the best comedy you’ll ever see or anything, but it does make for some breezy and light easy-watching.