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Trees (2001)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Michael Pleckaitis

Starring:
Kevin McCauley/Cody
Philip Gardiner/Cooper
Peter Randazzo/Squint
Raymond Michaud/Mayor Swindell
PLOT-CRUNCH
The campgrounds of Hazelville are very popular (everybody and their uncle hangs out there). But when a killer tree starts hunting and eating the campers, it's up to Ranger Cody (McCauley), tree hugger Cooper (Gardiner) and professional tree tracker Squint (Randazzo) to put an end to it. Will the tree make like a leaf and leave?
THE LOWDOWN
Written and directed by Michael Pleckaitis, Trees begins with a short message explaining how the film is an homage to Spielberg’s classic film JAWS. Well, that message wasn’t kidding. The level of enjoyment you will get watching this flick will be doubled if you remember JAWS (I did…damn good movie). The plot is almost exactly the same, some of the lines are the same (with some funny variations), Kevin McCauley is a dead ringer for Roy Schneider (Brody, Cody…get it) and even the score resembles the immortal JAWS theme.

This is a remake/parody of JAWS but here’s the kicker: instead of a shark, it’s a man-eating tree prowling about. That’s the film’s hook and it worked for me. I watched this puppy with a few friends and we couldn’t stop laughing. What makes the silly plot work is that the film and its characters don’t acknowledge that its story is dumb as "Gump". In the world of the film, man-eating trees are a common thing. Since the movie ignores its own stupidity, it’s up to us, the viewers to point it out and man did my boyz and I have a blast doing it. Personally I couldn’t stop giggling and yelling: "But it’s a tree, godamn it!"

The movie’s strong point is also its weak point: It follows JAWS way too closely. If you haven’t seen Spielberg’s killer shark tale you will miss half the jokes found in Trees and won't enjoy it as much. The film is talky (so was JAWS) and since the action is identical to what happens in JAWS but played on a smaller scale (instead of a boat chasing a shark, it’s a truck chasing a tree) it’s not all that exciting. JAWS had some great shark effects but Trees delivers…well…a tree (with a hidden guy moving it around I presume). Trees should have gone on its own more often. Maybe given us more tree mayhem and less talk. The talk worked for JAWS because it was a serious flick and it supported its build-up. But Trees needed more sight gags and more action to liven the pace up a bit.

On a positive note, once the end credits rolled I couldn’t deny that I had a blast with Trees. It’s a great pre-going out flick! Pleckaitis has a deep affection for Spielberg’s classic and that shines through the whole film. These days I don’t see many films with a lot of heart behind them. This one is all heart and an obvious labor of love. It doesn’t work a hundred percent as a stand-alone film but as a companion piece to JAWS, it’s a definite keeper. My homies and I are still quoting Trees left and right: "I’m talking about hunting a great white pine"… funny shite! My advice: get through this review and read my BOTTOM LINE very carefully…
GORE
Nothing to write home about. A cut-off arm here, some over the top red squirts there. More bloodshed could have helped liven things up a bit.
ACTING
Kevin McCauley (Cody) is bang on as the Ranger. He keeps a straight face the whole time and delivers in the "tense" moments. Philip Gardiner (Cooper) cracked my arse up as the tree hugger. He and McCauley play off each other perfectly. Peter Randazzo (Squint) worked half the time for me. He’s the only main character that bordered on caricature. Sometimes I thought he tried too hard to be funny, therefore clashing with the rest of the "dead pan" cast. Raymond Michaud (Mayor Swindell) is perfectly cast as the Mayor who doesn’t care, I loved his delivery. Mary Ann Nilan (Helen) doesn’t have much to do but kiss McCauley on the cheek…she does it well…but I was waiting for that big smooch. Just because the characters are married doesn’t mean they can’t get it on! Lorne Lakin (Dusty) has his comical moments but he’s not in the movie enough, I just didn’t get attached to him. Erin Reynolds (Nancy) runs fast, has a beautiful smile and let's not walk around the bush: has huge breasts! Great work girl! NOTE: Is it me or did all of the actors look really bad in their close ups. Where was the makeup artist? Drop that donut and do your job!
T & A
Erin Reynolds (Nancy) keeps her melons covered but no tank top can hide her humongous talents…both of them. We also get lots of naked trees.
DIRECTING
Pleckaitis did his pre-prod, that’s fer sure. Every shot seems carefully planned. He mirrors JAWS constantly and sure knows how to handle his actors. I dug the tree POV shots and the stylish moments he slapped in there. Nice work.
SOUNDTRACK
First off, I have to comment on the scene where the three main characters break into "Old McDonald". It’s freaking hilarious! Great energy in that scene! The score itself by Tom Destephano is very catchy and my friends and I were humming it the whole night. After the movie, we all hit a dance club…try picking up chicks chanting a JAWS like theme…it worked for us.
BOTTOM LINE
Trees is a wonderful homage to JAWS and one intentionally silly movie. It felt good to laugh. Now here’s my priceless advice: Get a few friends over, rent Jaws, get Trees and set yourself up for a double bill of terror and giggles. A six-pack of any kind of beer can help and some hot broads (or dudes) cuddling to you never hurt anybody either. It’s that kind of an evening guys and dolls. "I’m talking about hunting a great white pine!"… lol lol lol…. I just can’t get over that damn line…
BULL'S EYE
Be on the lookout for two sequels coming your way soon: Trees 2: The Root Of All Evil and Trees 3: The Search For Cody (an homage to Star Trek 3: The Search For Spock, perhaps?) For more info on the film check out the official site at: http://www.treesthemovie.com.
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