LOS ANGELES TIMES
Retro comedy ‘Baja’ offers a vacation for the mind
Since the days of Frankie and Annette, low-budget filmmakers have understood that the dopiest stories sell, so long as the location’s sunny and the characters sincere. Writer-director Tony Vidal’s youth comedy “Baja” isn’t that funny, but it does have a genially retro vibe and a breezy beach atmosphere.
Vidal juggles multiple sitcom-level subplots, which resolve in the most preposterous way imaginable. There are stories involving absentee dads, shady surf bums, dead pop stars and a failing resort hotel.
There is something to be said for the familiar. The reason you re-read that book, re-watch a movie millions of times, or revisit your favorite episodes of a show is because you know the laughs will leave you howling or when the drama will make you cry and those emotional highs comfort you like a cozy blanket. That is not to discount originality, of course, but retelling a familiar story well is better than an original tale told poorly. One doesn’t need to know the specific details of the new comedic road trip movie Baja before watching it in order for that snuggly warmth to pervade every frame.
…Jake Thomas, Chris Brochu, Michelle DeShon, Arienne Mandi, and Zoe Corraface are all great together. Individually each of them is fine and likable, but their group dynamic as friends feels so genuine and true that you are rooting for all of them.
The characters are really likable, the actors’ chemistry is off the charts, and the cordial ambiance invites the viewer to lay back and have a good time.
BEFORE IT’S NEWS
Prankster Movie Aims to Expand Consciousness
Hollywood fare has long been justifiably criticized for being lowbrow and mindless. The seemingly soulless approach of the corporate studios leaves the audience asking, “where are the movies with heart?” Independent filmmaker Tony Vidal answers with a teen movie called The Prankster. While the title suggests comedy, Vidal purports the film has an added dimension.
“While The Prankster is a teen comedy in the tradition of Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller, and Breaking Away, it has an additional dimension of depth, featuring quotes from Rumi and Kazantzakis, among others,” says Vidal. “My hope is to give young people a glimpse into some of the great wisdom traditions, while at the same time delivering the outrageous and bawdy humor typical of the genre.”
MARIN INDEPENDENT JOURNAL
Film producer returns to alma mater San Rafael High to direct movie
To hear him tell it, Tony Vidal was “a quiet, nerdy guy who studied a lot and got good grades” at San Rafael High School in the late 1960s. But he wasn’t above playing a prank or two.
Three decades later, the 56-year-old film producer and screenwriter returned to his alma mater to direct his first movie, “The Prankster,” a teen comedy about high school kids who rebel against authority by pulling what Vidal calls “sophisticated and fun pranks” – like humiliating their boorish dean and sabotaging the Senior Follies.
Marin’s own ‘Prankster’
Watch out Hollywood, Marin County is getting on the filmmaking map. Sausalito-based Prankster Entertainment has finished its first independent film, made entirely in Marin at locations including San Rafael, Marinwood and Sausalito. Larkspur resident Tony Vidal wrote, produced and directed “The Prankster,” a teen movie about high school students who use pranks to right the world’s wrongs.