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Rated 3.02 stars
by 177 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
To the Victor Belong the Spoils
by Betty Jo Tucker

How refreshing to see an independent film comedy that can be enjoyed by the entire family! The Mini surprised me with its delightfully funny -- and clean -- story about an underdog salesman who takes on his more powerful nemesis in a race that could change his down-trodden life forever. Filled with colorful small-town characters who definitely grow on you as the movie progresses, The Mini reminds me of Napoleon Dynamite, another indie gem.

Fran Molon (Larry Dahlke) could be the poster boy for low self-esteem. He still lives with his sweet mother (Sally Noble Hager) and works in a mattress store for a bully of a manager (Darrell Francis) who won’t even let him sell mattresses – only futons. The mattress sales belong to Rick (Chris Stack), a guy who’s been humiliating Fran for years. Fran’s gawky best friend Dale (Jeff Stockberger) usually stands by him, but neither of these pals would ever be invited to join Mensa. And forget about the dating world – at least until the lovely Carmen (Angie Craft) enters the scene.

Of course, Fran falls for Carmen, which gives him the courage to enter the local Mini marathon after his boss agrees that the store manager position would be Fran’s if he wins. Alas, Rick also enters the race, so our hero’s chances for victory go from slim to none. I had a great time watching Fran’s nontraditional training for the big day – and I couldn’t help cheering him on, despite the obstacles in his way.

All the actors deliver highly watchable performances here, even the ones with limited exposure on camera. For example, the annoying mechanic played by Marty Allain made me laugh whenever he appeared. His overly pomaded hair and officious attitude were just right for this amusing supporting role.

Allain, who also happens to be the post producer for The Mini, points out that this film was “produced on credit cards, determination, and a passion for filmmaking.” And, although the movie may have a traditional storyline, Allain says, “We tried to capture some of the absurd and ironic aspects of Midwestern life with cartoon-like characters and stark locales and hopefully, in the process, gave the film some ‘trippy’ subtext for those that wanted to look a little deeper.” Mission accomplished.     

Written and directed by Ron Beck, a first-timer, The Mini makes me want to see more movies with his name at the helm.    

(Released by Maverick Entertainment Group; not rated by MPAA.)

Listen to Marty Allain talk about The Mini by clicking here on or after July 13, 2010.

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