“Nobody ever leaves my parties early,” bellows Owen Harn as eccentric Teleplex CEO Liev Georgio in Maceo Greenberg’s debut feature film, Take Me to Tarzana. But, unfortunately, audiences may find themselves wanting to bounce from this one early.
During a meeting with his VR-enthusiast boss Schmeltz (Chris Coppola, Friday the 13th), an uninspired data analyst, Miles (Andrew Creer, You), inadvertently discovers something horrifying. His nightmare of a boss has been secretly spying on their female colleagues throughout the L.A.-based Teleplex offices. He opts to tell one of the women, Jane (Samantha Robinson, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood), about what he saw on Schmeltz’s desktop. Instead of going to the police, Jane wants their boss to pay. The two, along with Miles’ erratic friend Jameson (Jonathan Bennett, Mean Girls), devise a plan to access and download Schmeltz’s computer files to reveal his gross spying ways.
However, the trio ends up learning more about Teleplex than they bargained for. The company has been stealing the personal data and identities from hundreds of millions of targeted individuals and is planning to package and sell it off to the highest bidder–foreign governments included. “This makes Facebook’s data breach look like a tea party,” Jane exclaims. The night goes hard off the rails after Miles and Jane come across their dead colleague and eventually find themselves face-to-face with the Tarzan-loving Teleplex CEO.
The film looks to address many important issues from today’s world: sexual harassment in the workplace, online privacy, and how tech companies compile and sell personal data for profit. Approaching any of these topics in the scope of a meaningful and compelling narrative film would be quite the endeavor for almost any filmmaker. And in Greenberg’s attempt to address all of these issues here, the film gets a bit lost in itself and winds up being a little too wacky for its own good.
There is a lack of balance between the weight of the film’s topics and how the comedic aspects play out. By no means is the movie supposed to be interpreted as a drama, but at times, it felt like the main plot was taking a backseat in favor of playing up antics that didn’t serve the overall story–just unnecessary filler. But that’s not to say that the outlandish film doesn’t contain genuinely funny moments–its humor is successful when it’s embedded in moments of relatability.
The performances aren’t perfect, but Creer manages to put his best foot forward as Miles. He delivers a credible character throughout the 106-minute run time. He also nailed one of the more amusing moments of the film where Miles interacts with a robotic-like member of Teleplex’s HR department.
That said, Take Me to Tarzana doesn’t quite work, however well-intentioned the story may be. One solid performance and short-lived hilarity are not enough to overlook issues surrounding the film’s overall focus.
Take Me to Tarzana is available now on VOD.