Review: Buddies’ chemistry saves ‘Junk’ from comedy scrap heap


Some filmmakers want to show you their heart, while others are content to train their cameras on their navels. Director-writer-star Kevin Hamedani opts for the latter category with his quasi-autobiographical buddy comedy “Junk,” an insular, fitfully amusing look at the film festival world from the perspective of two novice screenwriters.

Hamedani and his co-writer and costar Ramon Isao made the political B-movie “Zombies of Mass Destruction.” In “Junk,” they play fictionalized versions of themselves — Kaveh and Raul, feuding writing partners who collaborated on the political B-movie “Islama-Rama 2: Mustafa Lives” and need to produce another screenplay on the quick to impress a powerful Japanese genre producer Yukio Tai (James Hong) at the festival where their last movie will play.

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The main action of Kaveh and Raul attending screenings, wooing women and chasing down Tai is spliced with scenes (also starring Hamedani and Isao) from their aborted script ideas about killers as samurais, none of which are entertaining enough.

There’s a vague feeling of novelty to the central characters’ Iranian background, especially in combination with their stoner identities and Judd Apatow-influenced, raunchy-yet-sensitive humor. Although Kaveh and Raul never transcend their archetypes as heartbroken single guy and too-comfortable married man, and Hamedani and Isao aren’t naturals in front of the camera, their rapport ultimately makes “Junk” a worthwhile lark.

“Junk.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes. At Arena Cinema in Hollywood. Also available on VOD.