Death, Taxes... and Chocolate! Film Review - The Dark Chocolate Comedy Wins Big At The 2008 NYIIFVF


Death, Taxes… and Chocolate! Two are presumably the most unpleasant inevitabilities that life has to offer. The third however, at least for most people, is one of life’s truly delight experiences. In this new comedy from producers Andrea Levinson and “Bud” Dowdey,  a group of Baby-Boomers decide to bite their thumbs at death by diving into a mountain of chocolate as a method to their demise.

The idea takes shape during one of the groups frequent get-togethers aboard Doc’s (Peggy Droz) Yacht. How would you like to buy the farm? Dutch (Greg Frucci) wants to kick off in an excess of women and booze. Mick (Dan Donavan) wants to go skydiving, not release his parachute and end in a splat! But Doc, unanimously, has the best plan: sail off with an insane amount of chocolate on a hot day and let hyper gloxinia do her in.

The Cast of "Death, Taxes... and Chocolate!"

Well, this idea is appalling to good Christian girl Taylor (Catherine Trail) since it is a sin to take your own life. But he possibility of looking death in the face and saying “Ha!”, sounds more than intriguing to Southern Belle Sara Jean (Jan Hartsell) and Brady (Ken Beals), so they are definitely in. The icing on the cake: Dutch will write an insurance policy for each of them so their kids and families will be taken care of after they are gone. A reluctant Taylor will go along for the ride, just in case anyone wants to change their mind.

With the plan in place, all that is left for our aging sextet is for the time to arrive when life is just not worth living for any of them, anymore.

Death, Taxes… and Chocolate! is not a sophisticated movie, but that is perhaps the essence of its charm. The movie feels like someone just started filming these parties where six Baby-Boomers decide to take their death in their own hands, rather than wither away like their friends and parents did before them. With the exception of Doc, most of the storytelling happens after the fact, told to the group one by one over wine and dinner. That makes for fairly clunky storytelling. It would have been nice to see their experiences in the world rather than hear about them secondhand. The burden of the comedy weighs heavily on the chemistry between the six conspirators. However, the drama comes in the anticipation of the end. Will someone change their mind? Will “The Day” be tomorrow? Will they actually go thru with it the pact and can they keep it a secret until the day of execution (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun). 

Bon-Bon Voyage!

Death, Taxes… and Chocolate! was made with the best intentions. It is a great achievement when a filmmaker can convey exactly the purpose for making the film without being over the top preachy.  And the while the message does get a bit heavy handed in spots, the character deliver this message with genuine concern through authentic, realistic performances. Kudos to the cast for some lovely understated work.

This film have a very specific voice of a generation concerned with a flawed health care system and a younger generation who does not seem to recognize the consequences of what we are doing to the planet. None of the performances are drastically affected and while the filmmakers do manage to throw in a little sex, drugs and Rocky Road, not much really happens. But this is not a movie that requires flashy camera work or Oscar caliber acting. The filmmakers got the voice of the piece dead on and created playful, mature characters that audiences are certain bound to identify with.

Death, Taxes… and Chocolate! was a multiple prize winner at the 2008 New York International Independent Film and Video Festival in Los Angeles, walking away with Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Trail) and Best Comedy Feature.

For more information about screenings and DVD sales, to go the official website: Death, Taxes... and Chocolate! 

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