Put Some Gay In Your Day, Dallas!

Red Carpet Not Included

If we go to another holiday party catered by Costco this year, we just might scream. And it’s only December 1. We love this festive season, but we crave variety in our soirees. So this year, we’re going to mix things up between the Mini Quiche and frozen Cream Puff courses. We may bring out the zombies. A jaded Oompa-Loompa. Or possibly a trash-talking grandma. All are guaranteed to bring the festivities to a whole new level.

And that’s all thanks to Film Festival in a Box, which is the most accurately named product since Snakes on a Plane. On one 28- to 50-minute DVD, you get four short independent films that fall within specific categories: Comedies, Love Stories, Chillers, and Powered by Girls, just to name a few.

Being the puritans that we are, we thought Pottymouth would be the way to go. What better way to introduce ourselves to some choice new words and scuff up our squeaky-clean image? You know, like Sandy in Grease.

All you need to do is gather together your movie-buff friends (and better yet, your buff movie-buff friends) and you’ve got everything you need but the popcorn to launch your very own film festival. It’s just like Sundance. Without the celebrities. Or $20,000 swag bags.

We did a test run over Thanksgiving with our family and it was so much better than our typical post-turkey ritual of Grey’s Anatomy re-runs and Man vs. Food marathons. When we popped in our DVD, we weren’t quite sure what to expect, knowing that the term “independent film” can mean soooo many different things (it’s often secret code for “sucky”). But we were wonderfully surprised. We just wish we’d had more than one DVD to keep the festival going into the night.

The production value was great on three films and terrible on another, but that’s exactly what a good film festival offers: uncensored variety. The films couldn’t be more different from each other and we were surprised to see actual Hollywood stars appear on our screen. These aren’t just made-in-the-basement movies submitted by wannabe directors filming their relatives and friends. Well, there’s a little of that, too.

As each film ends, questions appear on the screen to generate discussion within the group. They may seem silly at first, but when everyone gets involved, it’s fun to go all Siskel and Ebert about the movies you’ve just seen. When it’s all over, log on to the web site and vote for your winner and leave comments for the filmmakers, who pop up frequently to join in the dialogue with viewers. When’s the last time you complained about a Steven Spielberg movie and he wrote back to defend himself?

What’s great is the cost of the “festival” is less than the price of two matinee movie tickets, so the more people you invite, the bigger the bargain.

Now if only somebody will create “Male Go-Go Bar in a Box” our life will be complete.

$14.99 per genre, or $99.99 for all 32 short films