Tag Archives: Charlie Tahan

Fun Bus

Drunk Bus

by Brandon Thomas

When you’re sober, drunk people are annoying. Drunk college students are infinitely worse. But drunk college students on public transportation? The absolute worst. Entertaining, but still the worst. 

Thankfully Drunk Bus leans harder into the entertaining part of the drunkenness, and leaves the annoying portions on the cutting room floor.  

Michael (Charlie Tahan, Ozark) isn’t a college student anymore, but he’s still intimately involved in campus life. See, Michael drives a bus on campus during the late shift. Affectionately known as the “Drunk Bus,” the route typically consists of inebriated students and the more colorful townies. After Michael is assaulted during one of his shifts, his boss hires a tatted-up, punk rock Samoan security guard named Pineapple (Pineapple Tangaroa) to keep the peace. The two men couldn’t be any more different, but they quickly strike up a friendship that leads Michael on a path of rediscovering who he is.

I’m of the mind that a good comedy is typically light on plot. Sure, there should be an overall story being told, but no one is asking for anything as comically complex as Tenet. That being said, Drunk Bus hits the sweet spot for me by being more of a character study that also borders on being a hangout film. There’s situational and physical comedy to be sure, but the majority of the laughs come through the interactions of these characters.

Speaking of characters, there are more than a few memorable ones. Directors John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke pepper interesting personalities with equally interesting faces throughout the film. The standout being the imposing Samoan, Pineapple. Tangaroa is relatively new to acting, yet he brings a naturalistic charm to the role. He and Tahan find fast chemistry that has to work with as much screen time they share. 

Characters with names like “Fuck You Bob” and “Devo Ted” also charmed me to my core. An elderly character that says nothing but, “Fuck you!” and a middle-aged drug dealer who’s really into Devo might sound one-note – and they are to a point – but they also help define this ridiculously eclectic world the filmmakers have conjured. 

Drunk Bus dips its toe into cliche now and again, but, really, what comedy doesn’t? The strength of the film is its dedication to character and letting those relationships feel real and lived in.

Separation Anxiety

Super Dark Times

by Hope Madden

Super Dark Times opens ominously enough: a broken schoolroom window, a trail of blood running through empty classrooms and into a cafeteria. Though the outcome is not what you may expect, it sets an eerie stage for the 90s-set coming of age thriller.

Zach (Owen Campbell) and Josh (Charlie Tahan) are best friends, not yet driving, not yet dating, not yet determined if they are permanently dorks or just “awkward stage” dorks. They both like Allison (Elizabeth Cappuccino), both tolerate Daryl (Max Talisman).

Thanks in large part to a weirdly believable cast, writing that dances past clichés and confident direction, Super Dark Times creates the kind of charming but clumsy authenticity rarely seen in a coming-of-age indie.

Eighties high school flicks, mainly of the John Hughes variety, focused on right- versus wrong-side-of-the-tracks, popularity and the pressures parents can put on us. That is to say, they focused in most ways on the same worries that had plagued adolescent-focused films since the Fifties.

Contemporary films dealing with high schoolers require the ubiquitous presence of social media. But there is a particular darkness that entered the global consciousness about adolescents in the 90s, and Super Dark Times tries to tap that, using it to color the tone of its nostalgia and cusp-of-adulthood energy.

Kevin Phillips, making his feature debut, leans on his experience as a cinematographer to ensure the film looks as appealing and authentically nostalgic-90s-coming-of-age as possible. Writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski are unafraid to drop contextual clues without burdening characters with too much backstory, just to go on to upend expectations now and again to keep you on your toes.

Super Dark Times develops a thriller atmosphere fueled by the paranoid, confused logic of an adolescent. It’s all a fascinating and realistic journey—until it isn’t.

At a certain point in Super Dark Times, the film settles. It becomes something it didn’t have to become—like the teen who’s cool to hang onto that Subway job when he really needs to ditch town and make something of himself.

It’s an enormous credit to Philips and his young cast that this unnecessary cop-out doesn’t ruin the film. Together they have drawn so much investment in these characters and their futures that you can’t help but stay tuned and attentive.

But they could have done more.