MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH (2013)
Written and directed by Don Thacker
Ian Foliver is living in squalor in his apartment, which he hasn’t left for 16 months, when his beloved commodore television set, named Kent, dies. With nothing else to do with his failure of a life, Ian decides to kill himself but he can’t even get that right. After regaining consciousness after accidently knocking himself out, he is surprised to find that the grime built up on the floor beside the bathroom cabinet is talking to him. Known as ‘The Mold’, the strange, smooth-talking fungus promises to get Ian, who he calls Jack, back on his feet and out of his dead-end slump so he can prosper and maybe even score with the young woman who lives next door. But is The Mold to be trusted?
“The Mold knows, Jack. The Mold knows”
Surreal yet strangely endearing, Don Thacker’s slickly shot MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH is a peculiar beast, much like The Mold who lives in Ian’s bathroom. The film starts off with Ian sat on his sofa in his stained white underwear, with old takeaway cartons and other rubbish scattered all over his apartment. Ian breaks the fourth wall by talking to the viewer, practically narrating his situation and thoughts and feelings at the time. This is interspersed with some catchy 8-bit videogame music and imagery, as well as generic 80’s looking programmes on Ian’s television set of a workout show, cookery based TV shopping, gaming advert and an alien cop series, all of which have been created for the movie by Thacker. Life sucks for Ian but all that changes when he meets The Mold, voiced by cult actor Jeffrey Combs. Ian can’t quite believe that The Mold is talking to him, and he thinks he’s going a bit crackers, but nevertheless decides to take motivational advice from The Mold and to do the things The Mold requires in return, even if he’s not entirely sure he should trust it.
Whilst it is pretty much Ian and The Mold show, other characters are introduced to the grubby fold. Box The Ox (Pete Giovagnoli), Ian’s hulking landlord, requires payment from his tenant and demands that Ian have the money in three days. With Ian’s beloved TV broken, he decides to call a repair guy who makes an appearance at his apartment, along with the grocery delivery girl Vanessa (Hannah Stevenson) and the woman of his dreams, Leah, who he’s been spying on through the peephole in his apartment door. It’s hard to work out just who these characters really are after we see what happens to Ian throughout the course of the film. Nothing makes sense, yet all of it does. Is it real, imaginary or a bit of both? Who knows, but whatever it is, it sure is entertaining.
Charismatic Adrian DiGiovanni steals the show as bearded slouch Ian. Despite his initial laziness, Ian is quite a smart guy. He just seems to be at a low ebb when Jeffrey Combs’ scheming The Mold gets his grubby sludge onto him, convincing Ian to eat a load of weird things that it produces both from itself and the wall. Whilst Ian doesn’t really want to take advice from The Mold, he feels as though he hasn’t much of a choice as he has no-one else to help him, which is something The Mold knows only too well.
Funny, creepy and downright weird, MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH has ‘cult’ written all over it. If you get the chance, do check it out!