Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire (1999)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Ensemble Film, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Aug 25, 2000 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Karl Williams

This charming, low-budget romantic comedy is a festival award winner and marks the feature film debut of co-writer and director Kevin Jordan as well as the film's real-life brothers/stars. As (respectively) Chris "Goat on Fire" and Tony "Smiling Fish" Remi, Derick Martini and Steven Martini provide their characters with the warmth and charm of young men whose development has been long-arrested. Criticized by some for its affability, Smiling Fish and Goat on Fire is indeed a slight film, but the tone matches the subject matter well. Really about that moment in the lives of young men that so many Generation X "slacker"-type projects address, when childhood slips away and the mantle of adult responsibility is assumed, Jordan's film doesn't lose sight of the fact that these moves are often small ones -- universal in nature but usually insignificant to others. Jordan suggests that this emotional growth spurt doesn't have to be a big deal and can have its own loopy sense of fun; while not a grand statement in the tradition of telegraphed big-budget message pictures, it is just right in a small, well-scripted independent film produced on a budget under 50 grand.