Fans of local talent, Saturday Night Live, and Phoenix's SAS Fabrics store at long last have a cinematic place to meet: Aidy Bryant's new short film, Darby Forever.
Phoenix native Bryant, now in her third season as an SNL regular, plays Darby, a winsome loser who clerks in a sleepy, cut-rate fabric and notions shop. Her routine exchanges with visitors to the shop morph into fantasy sequences in which Bryant gets to mug and wiggle as various heroines in improbable situations. In one, featuring Natasha Lyonne, Darby fronts a thrash metal band and performs a song about being a bitch and liking it. (Her whole life is black boots and throwin' eggs at fat girls, she explains.) In another, she's the flawless mother of the world's most perfect little girl. Darby's crush on the water-delivery guy (Luka Jones), who's a sports fan, launches a bit about her invention of — and excellence at — a new kind of baseball, one "that entails no running at all."
Bryant is a charmer whose handlers, one imagines, are offering her up as "the next Melissa McCarthy." But where McCarthy's shtick is brash and ballsy, Bryant is more charismatic and accessible, warm without treacle. She's generous in scenes with Parks and Recreation's Retta, whose big, sassy presence perks up a wee role as Darby's boss.
Darby's shortcoming is its SNL-skit smugness, courtesy of a comedy aesthetic provided by that show's staffers: director Osmany Rodriguez and Bryant's co-writer, Chris Kelly, both hail from her television alma mater. Naughty language and smirky asides threaten to swallow up Bryant's performance, but her winsome good nature and everygal attitudes elevate this short Vimeo film, which might otherwise have come off as an also-ran SNL skit.
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Darby Forever is available to rent for 99 cents or buy for $2.99 through Vimeo on Demand.