Benjamin Troubles – Indie Film Review

Review By: Shaine Freeman
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Fantasy | Type: Feature Film

rated R

What would you do if you had a pair of jeans that produced $100 per hour, 24/7?  

The indie feature film, Benjamin Troubles, follows the daily life of a struggling artist/recovering-addict, Ben Solano (Manu Intiraymi), who can’t seem to shake his troubled past. After being kicked to the curb by his girlfriend, fired from his job, evicted from his home, his art backpack stolen, and being beaten and robbed on the streets, Ben finally gets some help from a guardian angel disguised as a homeless man. The man gives Ben a pair of jeans and some words of wisdom before disappearing into thin air, “Don’t let them do to you, what they did to me.”

Unbeknownst to Ben, the pants he received were “magic jeans” that produced $100 every hour – on the hour, 24/7. In the hands of a smart and sensible person $2400 a day could be a great thing, but in the hands of an idiot like Ben it only spells trouble. Throughout the film, the money from these jeans causes Ben to make a myriad of poor decisions that lead to trouble with crooked cops, an Aussie drug dealer, and all sorts of other unnecessary drama.

benjamin troubles

As a guy who has had the pleasure of managing the successful careers of both actors and directors at every level, I understand and respect the art of filmmaking. That said, I take very seriously what I say about the hard work the crew on Benjamin Troubles put into the production of this film. Without getting too technical, the cinematography, acting, and editing were very good compared with many low-budget indie features.

I thought the lead actors – Manu Intiraymi (Ben), Mishel Prada (Nova), and Phillip Andre Botello (Miles) – did a great job of bringing their characters to life; making them engaging and interesting. Some of the supporting cast were a bit unbelievable, and at times unnecessary in their delivery; but not enough to ruin the film for me.

Lee Ross did a decent job with the screenplay for Benjamin Troubles; crafting an interesting story that attempts to make drama, fantasy, and comedy co-exist in a comfortable way. I’ve found that when a writer tries mixing together genres like the ones in Benjamin, they seem to struggle with getting every aspect of their screenplay to click, as is the case here. At times the story gets a little too crazy and loses its focus, but to his credit Ross didn’t go so far off the track that he completely lost me. While I enjoyed the story, I didn’t fully connect with it.

Critic aside, when I watch movies I try my best to view them without expectations, which allows me the opportunity to enjoy things that a so-called “critic” would over analyze. Through the years, I’ve seen a lot of indie films, and most of the time they’re boring, unintelligent, and poorly produced. But, with Benjamin Troubles I was entertained by the chaos, and while I struggled to find the redeeming qualities in Ben’s story, I wasn’t bored.

For the entire 95 minutes I found myself laughing at Miles, not trusting Nova, while being completely annoyed by Ben’s decision making. I was thinking, “here’s a guy who has $2400 a day showing up in his pockets like clockwork, and he can’t find anywhere safer to live or a legitimate business to invest in just in case something happens to those dang jeans?” When a viewer connects with and develops feelings toward a character it means that the director and actors correctly interpreted the writer’s vision, while the cinematographer did a great job of capturing the best shots.

Despite a few pointless moments in the film, overall I was able to identify with the characters and make an emotional connection to who they are and what they were experiencing. I’d absolutely recommend Benjamin Troubles to anyone with an affinity for indie dark comedies with a Guy Richie feel.

This film has premiered at: Manhattan Film Festival (Won Best Screenplay), Laughlin International Film Festival (Honorable Mention), Sedona International Film Festival, Santa Fe International Film Festival, Garden State Film Festival, Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, Indian Cine Film Festival

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