Armen Kaprelian & Kent G. Llewellyn
After three years of producing the TV show House Hunters for HGTV, Armen Kaprelian teamed up with co-writer Kent G. Llewellyn to create this mockumentary. In the vein of Christopher Guest’s work with Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman, Closing Escrow takes a documentary styled approach to comedy as the actors stay in character throughout the entire film, having one-on-one confessionals with the camera that get more outrageous and hilarious with each passing moment given the film’s improvised free-wheeling environment. Although it isn’t quite in the same league as Guest’s work and some of the humor is forced, anyone who has ever been involved with the inconvenient, shocking, surprising and exciting housing market—whether it’s buying or selling a home, will find certain situations and personalities may ring an all too familiar (and therefore painful) bell. Quickly into the film we are introduced to three sets of couples all looking to move—the first is a young, power-driven African American husband and wife who want to get out of their tiny apartment and take advantage of their astronomical salaries as lawyers to move into a cool downtown loft. They are paired up with an odd, new-age, shallow and increasingly ridiculous and unhinged realtor named Hillary, played by the gifted comedienne Wendi McLendon-Covey who earned a Best Comedy Performance in Film Discovery Jury Award at the 2007 US Comedy Arts Festival for her turn in both this film and Cook Off. Mary and Allen, a nice, meek suburban couple hire their neighbor to find them a similar place with a more convenient location to Allen’s work so that he won’t miss out on quality time with his wife and daughter only to get cold feet and continually change their house-hunt criteria much to the dismay of realtor Peter. A terrifying Patty Wortham is pitch-perfect as the stalker Dawn who met her husband after scaring his previous wife away by setting his lawn on fire while serenading him. They hire Richard, a mercenary lawyer who likes to bring prices down by wreaking havoc on the homes with power tools and breaking things along with his backup trick of raiding the homeland security threat level. The funniest characters in the film, namely the realtors Hillary and Richard, help keep things consistently funny when the film threatens to veer off course and while it’s a breezy short work that still feels a bit long and unfocused, it’s worth the look just for the great performances and a few laughs that are as surprising, true and well-earned as finding the right home.