Trevor’s niece prepared a special dance for her crush, but the DJ didn’t play the right song at the event. Now Uncle Trevor is set to avenge her, armed with love, guts and a samurai sword.
Writer/director Patrick Muhlberger has fashioned a charming, endearing riff on the revenge tale, juxtaposed against a classic teen coming-of-age story, complete with awkward yearning and heightened feelings.
Blending deft comedy with the polished look of a music video, the film is stuffed with lots of warm family moments, as well as a few off-color jokes and a good amount of blood and awkward dancing.
The buoyant pace of the musical elements of the film as well as the comedy keep the story bubbling along, and the dark elements are balanced with a hilarious sense of commitment that sometimes verges on the surreal. It’s a tricky balance, but the result is a movie that is whimsical and heartwarming — but with enough bite to keep things from getting too saccharine.
With this mix of elements — as well as strong performances by the cast, who capture both the seriousness of the emotional situation as well as the absurdity of the drama — “Pop Music” is a distinctive, memorable film with a strong visual identity and a universal emotional appeal.
Q&A with Patrick Muhlberger
OMELETO: What made you want to tell this story or make this film? Why is it important to you?
PATRICK MUHLBERGER: I was pretty frustrated in my career making commercials and children’s shows, so I really wanted to make something that felt like it represented my voice. I was spending a lot of time stuck in traffic listening to Taylor Swift and the story kind of grew from there. As funny as this movie is, in my mind it’s a drama about the importance of love. And freak dancing…
OMELETO: How did you become interested in filmmaking? What drew you to film specifically?
PATRICK MUHLBERGER: I grew up a block away from a Blockbuster Video and I remember walking through the store at a young age and just staring at the covers and imagining what the movies were about, writing my own stories in my head. As I got older I started actually renting those movies from Blockbuster and comparing my imaginary version was to the real one. My parents were also big movie fans, so we watched a lot of older films as a family when they aired on TCM, and that helped expose me to a lot of movies I wouldn’t have seen on my own.
OMELETO: How do you find your inspiration — or keep inspired when the process of getting a film made gets difficult or your energy or creativity feel sapped?
PATRICK MUHLBERGER: I wish I had a good answer to this, but I struggle with this a ton. I often start with a dumb or ridiculous idea, then I try to find a way to ultimately make that meaningful. A lot of times I have a core image or concept in my mind, and when the going gets tough I just try to focus on that. For this short, we had the final pop song made early on in the process, and any time I got frustrated I would just play the song and imagine the climax and that usually kept me motivated.
OMELETO: What films or stories have been most inspiring or influential to you, and why?
PATRICK MUHLBERGER: I have a vivid memory of seeing “The Royal Tenenbaums” for the first time. I thought I was going into a standard Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson comedy ala Starsky and Hutch, but I was immediately floored by the style and craft and tone of the film. I had never seen anything like it and it blew my mind for what movies could be. That and Jackie Chan movies. I read his autobiography in middle school and was obsessed with all of his films.