Full disclosure: I’ve know the person who scored Jewel Fools since elementary school, and while we don’t really speak anymore — we were never particularly close, but for a while I would have considered him a friend — I still feel like, in the interest of being fair, you be made aware of that. We wouldn’t want things like ethics to be brought up, would we?
Jewel Fools is very much like every crime movie involving a MacGuffin. A thing exists, some criminals want the thing, and the heroes need the thing for reason X. So, they fight over it until one of them wins and gets to keep the thing. People die, guns are fired, and there aren’t any true surprises until the very end. Sometimes there’s character growth and sometimes there’s comedy, but you’re rarely going to be shocked at the direction that it takes along the way. And that’s fine. Formula exists because it works. If it didn’t, the formula wouldn’t be there. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
The film’s lead is Denis (Praneet Akilla), who lives with his best friends, Chad (Jian Choo) and Huey (David Schnetkamp), and his girlfriend of four years, Aly (Azra Lallany). Aly heads off on a trip to Vancouver, and Denis finally comes to the realization that, perhaps, it might be a good idea to marry her. He’s given a multi-million dollar ring from his grandmother — that his grandfather stole right before disappearing forever — and he’s got a wonderful plan to propose. The problem? A group of thieves steal his car and get the ring. What’s a guy going to do?
Well, the three guys go steal the ring back. But then bigger, far more dangerous criminals decide they want the ring, so now Denis and his pals have legitimate danger on their tails. This comes in the form of Byron (Chengis Javeri), an Englishman whose grandfather was the one from whom the ring was initially stolen. So, really, he has as much claim to it as Denis, but this is a story about keeping the ring so that he can propose, essentially proving to himself that he’s worthy of a girl like Aly.
It’s a pretty generic crime movie. You’ve seen it before. It has a good sense of humor, which helps, but these movies can make you laugh, too. Here’s the reason it gets talked about at all: it’s a film from Calgary — my hometown — that was made for approximately $3,000. And, yes, for that budget it is impressive. For indie productions, you have to take into account how much it cost. For that amount of money, it is ambitious and actually quite impressive. That it got made at all is something at which you have to marvel.
And yet, here’s where I struggle. For those who have no affiliation with Calgary or the filmmakers, what reason do you have to watch this movie? There are a ton of good amateur films online. But people don’t watch them because they could see the same movie with better acting, effects, cinematography, etc. That’s not to say that these films are bad — they’re often not, and I think Jewel Fools is overall pretty fun — but in comparison to a Hollywood movie, they’re not going to look particularly great.
Back to Jewel Fools, it’s too long, has some very mediocre supporting acting — although Praneet Akilla was strong in the lead role — and … actually has a surprise or two to offer you. It’s consistently funny, the effects aren’t terrible, and I can definitely appreciate all of the hard work that went into its creation. No, you don’t have much reason to watch it, especially if you aren’t from Calgary, but if you want to see a pretty good ultra low-budget crime movie, it might be one to check out.
Jewel Fools is a film I feel very mixed on. The lead actor was good, the jokes were consistently funny, and it does contain a couple of surprises (and local references, like Calgary’s weather) which will amuse those who won’t expect them. But it’s as generic as generic comes, wears out its welcome at 110 minutes, and has some bad supporting work. If you don’t have any affiliation with the filmmakers or the city of Calgary, you’re not likely to check it out, but if you do, you’ll have a decent amount of fun with it, and you’ll definitely be able to appreciate the work that was put into it.