One of the pleasures of home-hunting is not knowing what you might see once you walk through the front door of an open house. With Closing Escrow, a mockumentary about three couples’ search for their dream dwelling, the biggest problem is that within minutes, you know precisely what you’re in for—and it’s an eyesore. Written, directed, and edited by Armen Kaprelian and Kent Llewellyn, the film follows an upwardly mobile African-American pair (Cedric Yarbrough and April Barnett), a tight-knit Jewish couple (Rob Brownstein and Colleen Crabtree), and a vaguely loopy twosome (Andrew Friedman and Patty Wortham) as their respective realtors drag them across Los Angeles’ suburban sprawl. Kaprelian previously worked as a producer on House Hunters, the popular HGTV program that features real-life couples choosing between three potential new homes, and Closing Escrow mimics the network’s interior-porn shots, which linger quiveringly over every spectacular fireplace and built-in bookcase—although, noticeably, the film never bothers to satirize these shots’ gaudy materialistic reverence. Our unhealthy fascination with real estate, and our zest to both reinvent ourselves and measure up to our peers, are ripe material for biting commentary, but Closing Escrow can’t even execute the bare-bones requirements of mediocre mockumentaries, as its unbelievably quirky characters’ not-funny behavior is punctuated with awkward silences and L.A. clichés. There are the occasional mildly trenchant observations made about social status and racism, but overall this fixer-upper has very little curb appeal.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 14, 2007