Movie Review: Omaha (the movie)

Posted: March 22, 2010 in Movie Review, Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

The quality of this disc was pretty bad. As a result the caps aren’t that great. Free disc, no complaints, just explanations.

Omaha (The Movie) (1994 Dan Mirvish)

You haven’t heard of this movie? It’s LOCAL! (There’s the hipster joke out of the way.)

The actual mayor of Omaha at the time. Not an actor. He’s not mayor anymore.

I know, some of you are asking yourselves, “Omaha (the movie)? With your nearly one thousand feature length movies, your nearly 100 full documentary series, 50 TV series, another 50 different cartoon series, with all that to choose from you went for Omaha (the movie)?” Possibly you’re sitting there asking “There’s an ‘Omaha: The Movie’ in existence?” Or you might even be asking “Why are you writing a movie review on Saturday night?” To answer your questions in no particular order… I decided to make Sunday the post day for this blog, and I haven’t written anything except for another top ten list, so I needed a review and I needed it now. Yes, there is an Omaha: The Movie, it was one of the things that caused the Slamdance Film Festival to happen. As for the first one…well, I have a couple of reviews I’m struggling with and this one looked like it could break the spell. We’ll see if I’m right or not.

Listen you fools! You must run now!

You may not remember Total Movie Magazine, not many people do. I got it though, all ten issues. Each one came with a dvd full of trailers and short films. After issue 5, the dvd included a feature length movie as well. Issue #7 came with Omaha (the movie) which I sort of glanced at and put aside. That was something like eight years ago. I thought about watching it once, but after skipping around a little I decided against it. It seemed like a movie I didn’t want to waste my time with. I’ve mentioned before I that I have several movies I own, but for various reasons I’ve never watched, this is one of them. So let’s get this introduction over with and go right into the movie shall we? I’m going to watch this as I write.

I has a pony. Ride ’em cowgirl!

There is no opening logo for this movie. No mention of any distributor or production company, not even a producer’s name. You hit the play button and you are thrust into the first scene of the movie, which is the then mayor of Omaha (P.J. Morgan), riding in on a motor cycle and telling you about what a neat town he’s mayor of. We then go to a typical suburban hell where typically suburban hell things are going on. A child is trying to come out of the closet while the other inmates are arguing about what COPS knock off they like best. While this goes on, a man attempts to brush his teeth. Not kidding, he’s trying and failing to brush his teeth while his family argues at each other. Gonna be a hell of a movie. I wish I knew more movie people in my area. I wish I were the sort of person who could lord knowing about obscure movies over people’s heads. I have a feeling that just owning this thing has to put me into a higher hipster bracket. I feel like watching this is going to make side burns just appear on the side of my face. If someone randomly walks up and hands me a Pabst Blue Ribbon (instead of the champagne I’m accustomed to) I am going to scream.

Look at me! Do I look like I should be the main character in a movie?

So the family decides the kid who just announced that he’s gay, isn’t gay and our hero speaks his first words of the movie “The farthest place on earth from here is Nepal. I’ll be gone for a while.” We are then treated to a caption that reads One Year Later. It’s sort of charming in a way, all the captions are handwritten signs. I’m going to assume it was an economic move, this was 1994 after all and things were different back then. Had to bang rocks together and stuff. Anyway, our hero comes home from Nepal and finds nothing has changed. Then we suddenly get the Mayor again, still on his bike and still going on about Omaha. Huh, Omaha is the softball capital of the world according to this guy. Who knew? Strangely, this flick is growing on me. These guys really wanted to make sure they set this movie in Omaha, and I appreciate the local band flavor they’re casting.

Yeah, you know why this shot is here.

So, we’ve got a street poet talking about donuts, which is… quirky? Good Lord n butter but this movie takes place in 1994. The t-shirts alone sell the date. Oh, our hero’s name is Simon. This might be the first time anyone has said his name. Simon talks to the poet about the trip he took to Nepal, searching for inner peace. It seems he didn’t find it, and after not finding it all across the world, came home because he ran out of money. He did bring home some stones though. They’re played up quite heavily, so you know they must be part of the plot. That’s the whole back-story in a few sentences, and I believe the set up for the whole movie. Simon is going to search Omaha for inner peace and probably discover it was within him the whole time. You watch, there will be one of those “There’s no place like home” moments before we’re done and… wait, what? Someone just mentioned U.N.O. and the Chancellor of the place (Del Weber) is suddenly on screen talking about the school. It’s like someone just decided to insert footnotes Terry Pratchett Style and got local celebs to talk about the place while someone held up signs with their names in front of them. People keep having little asides, talking about the place.


Okay, so back to the plot, as it were. Simon needs to get a hair cut for a family portrait and WHAT THE HELL? His old flame from school just strapped him down BDSM style, whipped off her robe and reveled herself to be wearing a leather bodice and thigh high boots. She then spins him around in the chair, while he quite sensibly screams in terror and she cackles. Did I mention this is all in an abandoned warehouse and the chair is the only visible object? Well, it is. So this lunatic mounts our poor hero and begins to go at his head with a pair of scissors. It looks like it’s supposed to be a symbolic sex scene, focusing on Simon’s terror at heterosexual pairings and his GF’s insistence on maintaining a healthy and active relationship. When the spinning stops she leans back, sweating and spent, she ends this faux copulation by complimenting him on his nice hair. If they were trying to inspire angst towards sex, mission accomplished. I’ll think of the screaming of this scene for months. However, as screaming turns me on, it will achieve the opposite effect, but enough about my kinks. So then we get the family portrait. Oh and that goes well. I think Simon wants to make a point about machines distracting us from nature and stuff, but the scene is sort of a mess. I think it’s supposed to be, but it damages any narrative thrust to have such a scene played out in such a sloppy manner.


Simon and his friend, (or is she his girlfriend?) Gina discuss the prayer stones, which turn out to be emeralds. They are attacked by a roving gang of kick boxers from Des Moines Iowa. YOU HEARD! They even get the local law enforcement on screen talking about them. A pretty badly staged fight breaks out, and Gina kicks the crap out of the kick boxers. Then the movie sort of dies for a few minutes and we start to meander about before Simon starts hatin’ on cars. It seems we’re too dependant on cars for Simon’s liking. This is an interesting idea, but I’m from Detroit so Simon can sit and spin. I sort of think I might understand what’s stuck in his craw, but it’s not really well defined. Then he gets chased by some Columbians who want his emeralds or something.

This is just here to make the movie seem sexier than it is.

Simon goes through more existential quandary, hatin’ on cars, technology, and all of Nebraska. He and Gina take the stones on a roadtrip to Denver, because that’s where you go on a road trip if you’re in Omaha I guess. The strange quirkiness has sort of worn off at this point and the movie is just starting to drag a bit. Still, I gain 500 hipster points by making it to the end. Eye on the prize baby. It’s not that this is bad, rather it could have been tighter, and it could have been funnier. If a few more elements clicked together, this could have been a great small local movie. Instead, it never quite comes together.

You can almost hear the synth- based 80’s rock, can’t you?

So, while on the road, it turns out that Simon’s hate of cars is based on that fact that he’s no good at driving. The road trip continues though, because these things must go on. The movie isn’t really going anywhere while the characters go to Denver. The Columbians, a joke that got old a long time ago, get the jewels and a chase ensues. Not a very gripping chase mind you, but a chase nonetheless. Simon continues to be a pretty humorless and annoying character. Everything he sees, and I do mean everything, annoys him and brings him to another complaint. I’m only finishing this to see what happens to Gina at this point. I like her, she’s rocking out. She’s getting down with her bad self.

It’s not her advances that bother him, so much as her sunglasses.

So they end up at Carhenge, which is a real place in Nebraska. Simon hates Carhenge because it’s got cars and stuff and… I don’t know. He just hates cars because he hates them, frankly I find his anti-car bigotry extremely annoying, but then I’m pretty annoyed with this character anyway. He’s not someone I can identify with. Gina and Simon beat up the Columbians, but they fail to get the jewels back. Aaaaaaand, before they give up on the emeralds, Gina actually bumps her head and says “There’s no place like home” a couple of times. I honestly thought I was joking when I suggested it up there. I really didn’t expect them to really do the line, although I guess I sort of did.

I always love an end card, although in this case it’s a literal card.

Once Simon decides not to chase the Columbians, he has an epiphany about cars and this art project and stuff. He’s sort of full of crap and doesn’t make much sense. He decides that if he was looking for something, you shouldn’t look much further than your own back yard… yada, yada, yada and I’ll miss you most of all Scarecrow. Then they kiss and the movie ends. It’s not a great movie, but it could have been. Sort of disappointing that it’s not better, because the quirkiness could have made this movie really cool. Sadly though, it’s sort of crap. At least it’s only about 85 minutes long, so you don’t have to suffer too long. This was Dan Mirvish’s first movie though, so maybe his other films were better. This one though, not so much. If you really want a copy of the DVD though, you can check out the website and see if they have any in stock.

I like a movie that thanks you for watching its credits.

Official Score:
7 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

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  1. Neoncat93 says:

    I remember liking this film when I saw it years ago. Maybe quirky goes a long way with me. It was fun, but not having seen it since I don’t know how well it’s aged.

    I actually saw this film at a special showing in an office park in ne Atlanta, iirc, travelling the circuit not long after its release. Definitely the strangest venue for a feature film I’ve experienced.

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