The Seat Filler

The Seat Filler
Cast: Duane Martin, Kelly Rowland
Studio: Magnolia
Rating: 7/10

FILE UNDER: Low and behold—an indie flick that isn’t angry…

In The Seat Filler, Derrick (Martin) is a struggling law student who takes a job as an awards show seat filler to make ends meet. One day, he is seated next to the beautiful pop superstar Jnelle (Rowland), who mistakes him for a well-known industry executive. With an instant chemistry the unlikely pair begin to date, but Derrick must scale creative heights to keep up the charade. When the couple begins to fall for each other, Derrick must choose between his conscience and the love of his life.

Yes. Just check Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper for the original source. Quite honestly, I really didn’t relish the idea of screening this flick; the thought of another Destiny’s Child member “acting” just didn’t grab me. But to my surprise, The Seat Filler is fairly funny, upbeat, and well, enjoyable. Even Rowland isn’t half bad as the object of the hero’s affection. Duane Martin shows himself to be a competent player in his self-deprecating role as Derrick, and he and his co-star actually have really good chemistry. Another interesting tidbit is the appearance of former Spice Girl vixen Melanie Brown as Sandie, Jnelle’s personal assistant and confidant.

The film looks nice in a 1.85:1 transfer, far and away sharper and less grainy than most indies. The extras are fairly standard—a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes, a profile of Rowland and an extended version of her performing the song “Follow Your Destiny.” If you’re not into the music, the extras are really nothing special.

The Seat Filler pinches bits from Twain, and a clutch of other mistaken-identity films, infusing the material with a hip and modern twist. This independent film was obviously a labor of love for Martin and his cohorts, as the dialog, jokes and narrative display some authentic human qualities. Teenage girls will probably like it for Rowland’s appearance, but so will many of you older folk who are tired of the seemingly endless passel of woe-is-me indie films on the market. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of those angsty flicks myself, but it’s nice once in a while to finish a film where I’m not gritting my teeth, spinning fantasies of retribution, or craving Valium. For that alone, this one’s refreshing.

+ Jim Kaz

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