Rock Paper Scissors & Ted Melfi

HeatherCallahanStevensstripecropA while ago, I was asked to tape an audition for Hidden Figures. As a part of my regular research into a project for which I will audition, I looked into who was already involved in the project. I saw that the director is Theodore Melfi, the man who brought us Roshambo. This little gem of a short film is a very funny mockumentary of a fictional rock-paper-scissors tournament.

I had really enjoyed the short film because it reminded me of an email Roshambo competition that was held every year for several years that helped to keep a large dispersed group of close friends actively involved in each others’ lives. The contests went on for months every year…competitors were paired up and moderators assigned to keep score and provide commentary to the crowd. Side bets were encouraged, the more embarrassing and public the better. Commentators came up with gambits that described throwing patterns…(scissors scissors scissors…the “Hold Me, I Can’t” gambit).

Roshambo cover small

DVD cover for Roshambo

The competitions ended with a tournament at the annual weekend retreat for this crowd. Oh, yes. With brackets and everything.

Melfi’s Roshambo came out several years after our competition had fallen apart under the increasing demands of growing careers and families and the ease of using Facebook. However, I laughed pretty much through the entire half hour. The Karate Kid headband!! I also liked how the characters felt genuine, even in the situation they found themselves in.

After I made that connection, I was curious what Melfi has been up to since 2010. Turns out he has been making some really great commercials on (“Cowgirl, Mom! Look it up!”). I could write a whole post about these alone…take a few minutes and enjoy.

I also finally made the connection that Melfi was the director of St. Vincent. I’m not sure how I’d missed that, since it got a lot of attention when it came out. Deservedly so–it was rendered with the same quirky point of view that you can see in Melfi’s other projects, and also several moments where you could feel a genuine connection between the characters that brought a deep sense of reality to the dramatic and comedic moments. For me, watching the film felt deeply personal, maybe because as it turns out, the story is largely taken from Melfi’s life.

I say this as if I’ve seen all the rest of his movies…to be honest, I haven’t, so it’s possible that all of his other works are completely different. I hope not, though. I’ll get through the rest of his oeuvre eventually.