The film, NoHo, came out in 1995, one year after Clerks. The two are very similar: ultra-low budget films about Gen X slackers, meandering their way through life while having amusing conversations. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this film is a direct result of writer/director/star David Schrader watching Clerks and saying, “Hey, I bet I could do that!” Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.
The plot of this film is difficult to pin down. A lot of different things happen, and, often, the only real connection is its central group of characters. So, let’s introduce them.
Quinn Whiteman (Schrader) is laid off from his job. His search for a new one eventually leads him to Saul Berry (Michael Goetz), a self-absorbed, condescending, infomercial guru who hires Quinn to be his personal assistant, which involves washing his car, his boat, and his shoes.
Quinn’s roommate Harvey (Steven Marca) has no job, but is waiting on a legal settlement, the details of which no one ever goes into. In the meantime, he tries to earn some extra money by pretending to have clinical depression for a medical study. Harvey also sporadically worries that his penis might be getting too big. I imagine that in 1995, some people would have found the penis jokes to be tasteless and offensive. Watching the film in 2020, it was the tone-deaf attitude towards depression that made me uncomfortable.
Quinn and Harvey also have some other friends, and together they rent videos, eat pizza, and sit around talking at all hours of the day and night. They also get themselves into a variety of strange adventures and ridiculous situations, which range from playing football in the park (and being accosted by a desperate woman and her jealous husband in the process), to organizing a fake drug deal.
All throughout the movie, there’s a Slacker Fantasy motif, which can be pretty self-indulgent at times. Good things randomly drop into the characters’ lives without their having to put in any effort at all, and whenever they actually have to do any work, it’s oppressive and awful, and nothing good ever comes of it.
Case-in-point: Quinn’s love interest, Tamara. Quinn first meets Tamara (Elisa Beth Garver) in the park one afternoon. After about 30 seconds of cheesy pickup lines and unremarkable conversation, Tamara is so taken with him that she invites him to spend the rest of the day with her, and eventually brings him back to her apartment—with virtually no effort on Quinn’s part. Then, Quinn decides he’s not so into Tamara after all and bails, with the intention of ghosting her, because… he doesn’t like her CD collection.
When they have another chance encounter a few days later, she’s the one who ends up having to explain herself to him, and then they’re back at her apartment in the very next scene, like nothing’s wrong. The only work Quinn has to do throughout the entire relationship is to find condoms—which leads him on a journey of increasingly disastrous events and fruitless endeavors.
The events of Quinn and Tamara’s relationship perfectly encapsulate the viewpoint of the film as a whole: do no work, get rewarded. Work, and get punished.
The film meanders quite a bit, but there are still some funny moments. Some of the bizarre situations the characters manage to find themselves in made me laugh.
For me, though, the biggest appeal of the film was the setting. As its name implies, it’s set in (and was shot in) North Hollywood—an area where I’ve spent a fair amount of time. As such, it featured a lot of familiar locations, from Odyssey Video, to Circus Liquor, to the Amelia Earhart statue at North Hollywood Park. It was really interesting to see the area as it was 25 years ago.
There’s definite fun to be had in this movie. If you’re a fan of Clerks, you’ll likely enjoy this one, too. Or if, like me, you’re a fan of North Hollywood and want a bit of NoHo nostalgia, then this film is one you’ll want to check out. A trailer for the Noho Silver 25th Anniversary black-and-white edition is now available, and the film will soon be coming to Amazon Prime.
Creative Team: David Schrader (writer, director, Quinn), Peter Harris and Tony Summers (producers), Damon Stout (music), Matthew Braun (cinematography), Jessica Landaw (film editing), Elisa Beth Garver (Tamara), and Steven Marca (Harvey).
Released by: Hybräu Studios