‘American Beauty 2’ is Real, and it is Glorious

Short of the Day

A bag, a man, and a story of ruthless, hilarious vengeance.

My three-word, gut-punch review of the short film American Beauty 2: “Best. Sequel. Ever.”

Allow me to expand.

There are ingenious films, there are hilarious films, and then there is Zak Stoltz’s American Beauty 2, which is both of these things and so very much more. It doesn’t deal with any of the human characters from the first film, rather the empty white plastic bag floating in the breeze, who we all know was the real star anyway.

More than a decade has passed since last we saw ole baggy (Rite Aid Bag #54987, according to the credits), and he’s still doing his thing, drifting along metropolitan alleyways waiting to inspire pretention in any aspiring artist who comes along, or, alternately, smite any fool who dares offend him. Thus enter said fool (Brooks Morrison), who callously douses baggy in neon-colored Big Gulp while dancing his ass off to some classic Limp Bizkit.

From such a simple act is unleashed an epic hunt that results in, well, you have to see for yourself.

Stoltz is keenly adept at establishing the world of his film in mere seconds, and the performances by Morrison and #54987 recall the chemistry of Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, respectively, in the original Cape Fear, or perhaps the T-1000 from Terminator 2 and that lame John Connor played by Eddie Furlong. But the real heroes here are bag whisperers Ellis Bahl, Jimmy Sudekum, Jason Kisvarday, and Brendan Clifford, who no doubt risked life, limb, and sanity while trying to wrest control over the chaotic performance of #54987.

In all seriousness, this is, for my money, short comedic filmmaking at its finest. The situation is simple if absurd, the performances are appropriately over the top, the filmmaking is effectively chaotic and kinetic, and the overall result is a damn fun five minutes. If had three thumbs, that still wouldn’t be enough to recommend this one.

Ooh, and for added fun, take a shot every time you spot a 7–11 reference, you’ll be nice and lit by film’s end.*

Shout out to Short of the Week for showing us the light.

*Editor’s Note: FSR implores you to ignore Perry and please drink responsibly.