Photo by Maria Esteves

Part of CMJ Film Festival

Circus Maximus is a comedy comprised of four stories rolled into one. After being nominated for an Independent Sky Award, acclaimed screenwriter Cal Neros (Julian McCullough) is given a million dollar advance for his next film. To his surprise, the studio expects three action-packed, gritty short stories as opposed to the heart warming, male-bonding film he is planning. With the deadline quickly approaching, Cal needs to find away to quell his writer’s block and provide his all-business, wise-cracking producer, Romano (Mario Cantone), with the script he promised.

The film opens with a number of laughs, mixing sarcasm with cynicism in a darkly comedic fashion. The opening is promising, but some of the sarcasm falls flat. Jokes and witticisms run too long, and others, while strong in theory, fall short or never take off.

A notable performance comes from Kevin Corrigan who plays Peter, a thief paid to steal a jarred fetus but keeps it because it reminds him of the brother he never had. Corrigan delivers his lines with keen comedic timing and dead pan facial expressions. The story he is featured in, The Misadventures Of Captain Cool And Sergeant Suave, is the best of all, surpassing even Neros’ personal story. The shining star of the film is Romano, whose screen time unfortunately totals about fifteen minutes. However brief those fifteen minutes are, they are enough to steal the film.

While the humor feels as though it’s lacking, the film closes with a twist that is a take on a feeling so universal it hits home with a bang. Circus Maximus might not be the best or most hilarious film out there, it is sure to leave you with a smile.After the film premiered on October 19, audiences dispersed quickly, resulting in no official Q&A. However, members of the cast and crew lingered for press photos and some impromptu conversation. Susan Goodstein, who plays Marc’s mother in The Unfortunate Son (her character was officially nameless, though she says she named her Bella), mentioned that she enjoyed working on the film and that she felt there was a real niche for this type of comedy. She continued, saying “they’ve screened the film in several places to college students” and it’s been met with warm reception.