Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Oh Suzanne Whang how we long to have you help us hunt for OUR house. Did you know Ms. Whang, who is the host of the HGTV show House Hunters – like you didn’t know, has her own website and is a stand-up comedienne? That she graduated from Yale and has a Masters from Brown? Did you know this? I didn’t until I Googled the girl in preparation for writing the review of the mockumentary ‘Closing Escrow’. You know Suzanne doesn’t seem all that funny. At least she’s not all that funny on House Hunters, but then I suppose that’s not funny show. There’s a number on her site that I can call her agent book her for an engagement. I may have to do that and have her do a gig down at the local VFW to see how funny this woman is. She’s also pretty adamant that everybody on the planet should watch ‘The Secret’. I’m going to just that, and only because Suzanne Whang told me to.

‘Closing Escrow’ follows three couples from three disparate backgrounds and their equally disparate real-estate agents as they go through the process of attempting to buy a home. Dawn (Patty Wortham) and Tom (Andrew Freidman) have grown tired of their old home because this is a home Tom shared with his ex-wife until Dawn was finally able to successfully stalk the woman out of Tom’s house by setting their lawn on fire, among other things. Their agent Richard (Ryan Smith) is a firm believer in sudden depreciation and helps his clients get the best deal by systematically destroying the houses he shows them.

Allen (Rob Brownstein) and Mary (Coleen Crabtree) are a more mature family oriented couple who love playing Taboo and need a home closer to the city to cut down on Rob’s long commute. But Rob is causing a rift with his real-estate agent and new neighbor Peter (Bruce Thomas) as Rob is relentlessly building on to his existing home and is making new demands for each home he shows them, such as a request for a ‘Dance Room’.

Tameka (April Barnett) and Bobby (Cedric Yarborough) are a pair of African American lawyers who are looking to get out of their cramped apartment and into a power couple friendly loft and are saddled with their somewhat racially insensitive agent Hillary (Wendi McLendon-Covey) who reminds us that she does have experience selling to minorities.

So we follow our couples through the various homes they look at and listen to the problems and the comments from all their experiences. We can surely guess that somehow, someway all three sets of our house hunters will end up at the same house at some time where even more hilarity and mayhem will ensue, greater than even what we have just seen. Or at least in theory.

Being as how I’ve been trying to sell my own house with absolutely no luck for over a year as of this writing, resorting in me burying a statue in of Saint Joseph in my front lawn, I needed a laugh about my horrible situation and ‘Closing Escrow’ comes to the rescue for the most part. There is no denying, at least from where I sit, that this is a very funny, very clever and very well put together mockumentary, perhaps not in the same league of the Christopher Guest masterpieces, but still standing well on its own. Largely improvised sketch comedy, the funniest parts come from Cedric Yarborough and Wendi McLendon-Covey who just so happen to star in one of the few TV shows I still watch, ‘Reno 911’, and can perform improvisational comedy about as well as anybody. McLendon-Covey has a way letting the most ridiculous things just roll of her tongue in her classic deadpan delivery and Yarborough to me is just a flat out funny dude.

Directed by Armen Kerpelian and Kent G. Llewllyn, ‘Closing Escrow’ doesn’t hit a home run on all of its jokes as some of it feels forced, like they are really trying like hell to make you laugh, and as a result doesn’t work all that well in some cases, but here I can say there are more good times than bad to be had in this clever comedy. Also I would be remiss in not mentioning that Armen Kerpelian was a producer on House Hunters for a number of years so not only does that mean that he is quite familiar with the source material, but that he probably knows Suzanne Whang real well. Maybe her contract with HGTV prevented her from being in this film because her presence would have made this thing just about perfect, plus she’s a comedian. And this is a comedy. I ain’t got no degree from Yale and Brown but that looks like simple math to me.

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