'Never Been Thawed'

A straightforwardly bad-mannered indie comedy, Never Been Thawed assumes its biggest risk by targeting a subculture that doesn't exist: frozen-entrée collectors in Mesa, Arizona. Luckily, there's overlap with another, uglier subculture—Christian rock and its fan base—with infinite room for riffing (the William Jefferson Clinton Abstinence Center, the Starbucks-like No Choice Café). Despite plenty of talk of TV dinners and a convention whose "vegetable medley" booth alone takes in $40K, NBT's not really about the food; it's about how alpha males will rise up in any human grouping. Shawn (co-writer and director Sean Anders), founder of the Frozen Entrée Enthusiasts Club and lead singer of a punk band that gets religion in the true spirit of Christian profiteering, is the alpha male up until the, or his, heady end. (Alpha male two, a discreetly magnetic Mike Gordon, runs corporate retreats that replicate the Vietcong prisoner experience.) Some jokes—an ex-gay firefighter, a safety-and-efficiency consultant—are overwritten to the point of distraction, but with enough on its plate, NBT is passably offbeat, with a gloomy heart but no handouts for the spineless and lowly.

 
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