5-Word 365 #235 – Flakes

Is this really a thing in the US? Restaurants that serve nothing but breakfast cereal? I bet they won’t have Weetabix.


Now I’m hungry for Weetabix.

Neal Downs is the manager of a cereal bar called Flakes owned by an aging hippy in New Orleans, but he really wants to be a rock star. His girlfriend, Miss Pussy Katz, is an artist who makes and sells custom clothing. When her attempts to motivate Neal to finish his CD backfire, it could mean the end for Flakes.

Director Michael Lehmann started his career with 1989’s seminal high school satire Heathers and some might say it’s been downhill for him ever since. Regardless of quality though, his films have mostly all shared one attribute: self-awareness. The problem with Flakes is that I can’t tell if it is being satirical of Neal and Pussy’s slacker/nascent hipster lifestyle or endorsing it. Coming on like a cross between Empire Records and Dodgeball, the only clear message it is putting across is that capitalism and the homogenisation of American culture is bad. Yeah, I know; pretty heavy stuff for a low-budget comedy about cereal.

The movie was co-written by Karey Kirkpatrick, who wrote and directed the sharp-witted but under-rated animation Over The Hedge the year before. Where that movie was filled with engaging little critters and all kinds of fun wordplay in the dialogue, Flakes suffers with a lack of solid characterisation – mainly among the supporting cast but also with the two leads on occasion – and the wordplay in this flick often seems limited to various uses of the word fuck.

Apparently there’s a technique for mixing cereals. Who knew?

Even though they might not get much to dig their teeth into, both figuratively and literally speaking, the cast mostly do quite well with what they have. Aaron Stanford is an engaging lead as Neal. He manages to parlay the guy’s rampant inverse snobbery and lack of ambition into an oddly likeable performance. Neal is a dick, though you can’t help but root for him just a little. Zooey Deschanel plays the self-named Pussy Katz (she changed it when she was 16) as another in her stock repertoire of kooks; all wide eyes and odd clothing combinations. If you know her work, you know what you’ll be getting here.

Christopher Lloyd is always good value, and he is no different here as Willie, the owner of Flakes. Just imagine if Reverend Jim had given up driving cabs in NYC and moved to N’Orleans to open a cereal bar and you’ll have a pretty good idea what to expect. Unfortunately the rest of the cast got the short end of the stick when it came to character development or backstory. And for a movie that makes such a big deal about it’s location, there is an unacceptable lack of Louisiana accents on display.

I’ve just read back what I’ve written so far, and I can understand if you think I didn’t enjoy Flakes. The truth is that despite all the ways in which it doesn’t really work, it still manages to have some fun moments and ultimately becomes an inoffensive way to pass an hour and a half. It’s fluff, but still mildly entertaining fluff.

I think I’ll close with some trivia tonight: I get my salary from the day job next week. At that time, I will be in a position to single-handedly triple this flick’s total box office receipts. Make of that what you will.


  1. todayiwatchedamovie · August 23, 2012

    Neil Down is the name of the fat kid in ParaNorman too

    • Ryan McNeely · August 23, 2012

      NO WAY!!!
      I haven’t decided if I want to see that flick yet. The trailers looked like fun but I’ve seen some scathing reviews.

  2. mistylayne · August 24, 2012

    I can’t for the life of me figure out if I’ve seen this or not. I think I’ll have to watch. Also, I’ve never ever seen a cereal restaurant. I would totally dig that though.

    • Ryan McNeely · August 24, 2012

      It does seem a bit forgettable really. Cereal restaurants could be fun, but I like big portions.

  3. Mark Walker · August 25, 2012

    I’d never heard of this before Ryan. It sounds interesting. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for it. Cheers man.

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

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