The Best Birthday Ever (2013): Political Party Punch Line (Review)

Cole Jaeger

Not being a huge fan of politics or political satire, “The Best Birthday Ever” could have been bypassed by us completely.  However the uber short film about a teenager, who talks like a small child, celebrating his birthday  is amusing and somewhat pithy.

Written and directed by Cole Jaeger , this five minute film stars Jaeger, as Dimpton, Timothy J. Cox as Father Bo and Scott Schuler as Uncle Bib.  The film starts with Dimpton reading  his “book.” The crayon illustrated book has three title pages and Dimpton reads each and every one out loud.

He talks about his presents, Father Bo (the republican) and Uncle Bib (the democrat.  His special day includes a trip to the beach and chicken mcnuggets. He puts glue on his special meal.  

Father Bo tries to talk reason to the boy but his sage advice, given rather gruffly, is ignored.  After Bo yells at Dimpton for putting glue on his snack, the boy continues eating his mcnuggets while a revolted Bo looks on.

The initially comes across as so much nonsense. There is, however, more going on here than a odd look at a birthday boy’s antics. In order to get what Jaeger is up to, one has to look at the visual messages of the film.

At one point, Father Bo is pushing Dimpton in a swing. Uncle Bib, the democrat, steps up and starts pushing the boy.  Bo snarls “democrat” at his brother and the two men argue.

The point here, and in the film overall, is that political parties push their themes to a helpless public. Although to be fair, it could mean something else altogether, but that is the message this reviewer got.

Jaeger’s entire, and extremely short, film appears to be a massive poke at US politics. With Dimpton as the “Joe Public” figure, the birthday boy is the unsuspecting, uneducated voter. Visual images include the Democratic party “Donkey” laying on its back, like a helpless turtle, and crying.

There is also a mention of Obama, made while Dimpton cowers in his “cave” as Father Bo and Uncle Bib are arguing. Once again the implication is one of willful ignorance and a certain helplessness toward political issues.

The Best Birthday Ever is classed as a comedy and it really is focused on making fun of politics, or more accurately the political party system. For instance, Jaeger, as Dimpton, reads his title three times. This appears to be a nod to the three party system, i.e. the  Republican, Democrat and Independent party.

The film is a clever little production that benefits from having too little time spent on anything other than its message. It is an interesting look, in a very abstract way, at the “system.”

If Jaeger is not cocking a snook at American politics, he has managed to make an interesting comment on the state of the US system and its voters by delightful accident.

It will be interesting to see what other projects Jaeger may have in the pipeline.  He certainly makes his minimalistic cast and story work very well, although his ace in the hole is character actor Timothy J. Cox.

The Best Birthday Ever  feels like a cinematic  version of flash fiction, or perhaps a movie made following the guidelines of YouTube, where 15 minutes is considered too long. Regardless of the influences behind the film, it is an interesting project.

Cole Jaeger’s film is a 3 star effort. The editing works well and the cinematography is competently done. The Best Birthday Ever is definitely worth a look, or two, as a sort of political party punchline with a very short buildup.