It is very important to state that if you do not love the theatre, and no I don’t mean the movie theatre, then Tankhouse is absolutely not for you. However, if you love live theatre, everything from Broadway to your local playhouse, then Tankhouse will absolutely be to your delight with everything and anything in between. First-time feature writer and director Noam Tomaschoff, along with Chelsea Frei, creates a pseudo sequel (though it definitely feels unintentional) to Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice. There is so much to love and take pleasure in within Tankhouse and everything is inspired and lived through the most eccentric of characters, so strap in and enjoy the most hodgepodge collaboration of Pitch Perfect, West Side Story, Don’t Think Twice, and any other movie one can think of about some overzealous individuals trying to make it for themselves, in the fun and energetic Tankhouse.
We start off meeting our two eccentric theatre aficionados in Sandrene (Tara Holt) and Tucker (Stephen Friedrich) as they are performing in the theatre capital of the world, New York City, that is until they’re unfortunately blacklisted by the entire industry by Buford (Christopher Lloyd). Unsure how to continue their lifelong passion, it is suggested to the duo that Fargo, North Dakota, is an equally good destination to try and fulfil their dreams. Upon arriving in Fargo, they want to start a theatrical revolution, but Sandrene is from Fargo and it annoys Tucker that the person he has decided to start this revolution with is a completely different person than the one he has known once she returns to her hometown.
While trying to start this theatrical revolution, they conjure a cast that consists of Leah (Nadia Alexander), Nina (Sara Yarkin), Yorick (Joe Adler), Jack (Austin Crute), and Brady (Luke Spencer Roberts), as they all butt heads about what show to put on and the direction they want to go. However, the drama doesn’t stop there. There is one theatre that is available and they need to put on the best show to win the right to have the theatre, and Sandrene’s former teacher, Morten (Richard Kind), is determined to have the theatre for himself. One scene, without going into too much detail, makes the entire movie worth watching. It is essentially an act-off fast-paced battle like a dance-off, with Richard Kind partaking. It is one of the funniest, nerdiest, most theatrical things ever witnessed and it left me in absolute stitches.
Tankhouse works on many levels, but the fact that Tara Holt and Stephen Friedrich appear to be theatre nerds through and through brings a level of authenticity to the forefront while being over-the-top dramatic and it shines a light on the difficulty of being a stage actor and the ego and challenges that people must go through to land a production and make it captivating. Their performances truly demonstrate the hardships and the absolute maddening efforts that it takes to be in that spotlight and also the absolute madness one must possess to want to strive to those goals. Stephen’s character, in particular, being a control freak, amongst other things, demonstrates some of the things that are going on in the theatre world now. There is so much deeper meaning than is presented on the surface level of Tankhouse, whether intentional or not, providing some thought and insight into the theatre world. However, it would be unfair not to mention the performance of Richard Kind as this man steals every scene he is present in. There is so much life and laughter that he provides to every scene that it brings an entirely new dimension of fun and enrichment to the film.
Tankhouse is a movie made presumably by theatre lovers for theatre lovers. This movie is for every single person who loves live theatre and wants a dramatized version of the workings behind the scenes of live theatre. It is rare to find something so endearing and eye-opening and hilarious all at once for a rather niche audience, but Tankhouse definitely hits that market.
In select theaters and on VOD May 13th, 2022.
For more information, head to the official Tankhouse website.
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5.