By train wreck, this is in reference to the events that unfold rather than a critique of the movie’s quality. Darkly humorous, but with a sad yet hopeful spirit sprinkled throughout, Paul Dood is an unforgettable and oddly charismatic character. Directed by Nick Gillespie, PAUL DOOD’S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK feels like if The Joker went a more comical route. When Paul Dood misses his audition for a national talent show because of five people, he decides to get revenge.
Paul Dood (Tom Meeten) is an older British man who lives with and takes care of his ailing disabled mother. It’s clear that he does adore his mother and they get along well. He has a dream of becoming famous and his mother believes in him. PAUL DOOD’S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK is meant to be overly dramatic and funny and it delivers in a riotous fashion. Yet, there are moments of sorrow that were surprisingly unexpected.
Paul Dood’s is relatable in many ways. Some of us care for ailing parents. Some of us decided to or had no choice but to pursue our dreams late. Often, once you hit your 30s if you’re not settled into your dream job, you’re considered washed up before you’ve even begun. And if you’re in your 40s? Well, you’re too old to know anything about current times and, often even surveys and people are not checking for your demographic. Paul Dood still believes in his dream; exhibiting all the goodwill and hope of someone half his age.
Yet, when he and his mother, who is in a wheelchair, rush to the audition they encounter some of the most selfish, cold, and ableist scum around. The resultant event unfolds and Paul Dood soon finds himself on a path toward vengeance. But, as this is also a comedy, payback doesn’t come to fruition in quite the way he imagines it.
The acting is overall hilarious. The way PAUL DOOD’S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK depicts celebrities’ toxically fake caring natures is precisely what more and more people are calling out. They do not care about people. But there are also selfish people in all walks of life and to see them dispatched during Paul Dood’s live-streamed lunch break splits the viewers into camps that cheer or revile what they witnessing. Yet, they still watch because our obsession with destruction and mayhem continues to grow. It’s what the news saturated us with when they went by “if it bleeds it leads” focus. Often daydreams and fantasies, particularly for those who struggle or are mistreated are about harming those who wronged us or succeeding and shoving our success down their collective naysayers’ throats.
Paul Dood seeks retribution in the most colorful attire, reminiscent of David Bowie while lacking that confidence. Each individual Paul Dood seeks to harm is different. The only common thread is that each character, in their own way, has a horrible nature. The music also tells us this is supposed to be over the top and dramatic. So when Paul Dood is upset, the music rising and slow-motion come to embrace him. When he’s envisioning revenge, it’s all glitz and glamour as though he is imagining cheers from a close-up on a stage. My favorite was hearing Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat which fits with Paul Dood’s love for the 80s.
What makes PAUL DOOD’S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK memorable is the acting, music, and sensational deaths that only dim next to Paul Dood’s glittery unitard attire. He is a character we can see ourselves in, fighting against the odds and feeling our trusting, caring spirit upended by horrendous people. The humor is largely carried by Paul Dood, but there are other shining characters, like the two elderly women who happen upon him in a park. In the end, PAUL DOOD’S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK may just be your cup of shining, scalding tea.
PAUL DOOD’S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK had its world premiere at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival.