Any movie that begins with several minutes of a hungover person throwing up will grab your attention. It will especially grab your attention if it is handled in the offbeat way that the folks behind One Too Many Mornings decided to play it. The film begins as we meet Fischer (Stephen Hale), a guy who clearly had a great night last night — and subsequently, is no stranger to having had great nights and painful mornings. Fischer lives in and takes care of a church, coaches little squirts soccer and chases cougars in bars (yes, that happens). But today he’s going to be paid a visit by an old friend named Peter (Anthony Deptula) who will force him to rethink his chosen path.
Co-written by Hale, Deptula and director Michael Mohan, One Too Many Mornings is a tale of friendship and drunken debauchery. Between Fischer’s drinking problem and Peter’s trouble with his longterm girlfriend Rudy (played by the adorable Tina Kapousis), there is enough situational comedy to go around. There’s a party inside the church at night, cougar chasing galore and yes, drinking. Hale and Deptula are individually hilarious — dare I say that Hale reminds me of Jeff Anderson from Clerks, with his wit and generally depraved existence — but work best together. The back and forth is great, and Fischer and Peter feel like authentic characters, even when something absurd is happening.
Beyond the authenticity of the two main characters and their antics, this film is incredibly well-executed. Director Michael Mohan gives the film a detailed black and white treatment that really pops. The film is not only very funny, but also visually interesting at every turn. I was especially drawn to the film’s more efficiently cut scenes, including some introductory scenes in which we see Fischer turning off all of the lights in the church where he lives. This serves to illuminate the fact that he lives an easy life, and there’s no reason for him to go through the absurd amount of partying that is imminent.
In fact, efficiency is a word that I would throw around a lot with this film. It is tightly paced, well-edited and moves incredibly well from emotional moment to funny moment to funny moment to funny moment to emotional moment. There’s a fluidity here that is rare in the world of young independent filmmaking. Too often, young filmmakers linger too long and get too wrapped up in their ability to frame a shot on a beach. Michael Mohan shows a steady hand out of the gate.
In the end, it’s nice to see a refreshing, funny comedy about drinking and avoiding commitment that is also subtle and honest. With characters that are grounded, natural and likable, even when they’re puking on kids. It is also great to see a young filmmaking team create something that is interesting, and at the same time shows great potential. It is clear that we have not yet heard the last of Stephen Hale, Anthony Deptula and Michael Mohan. Which is nice.