Full disclosure, right out of the gate – I gave money to Alejandro Montoya Marin’s Indie GoGo to help this film, Millennium Bugs (2020), get made. In fact, I can proudly say this is the first film that my name appears in the credits for. Thus, my opinion of the film does have a bit of bias to it – but if you read my review of Monday and listen to our podcast episode where we interviewed Marin, you may see that while I am a fan of his work and I consider him a friend, I am also generally honest. With that out of the way…Millennium Bugs is very funny, showcases a lot of young talent deserving of more opportunities, and feels like it is cut from the cloth in which the film is set.
Kelly (Katy Erin) and Miguel (Michael Lovato) are good friends who are just opening to survey the end of the millennium. With a few days before the year 2000 and the Y2K scare in full effect, they are navigating their normal problems and regrets as they move into a new century. Kelly is fueled by far too much alcohol, and Miguel is just along for a lot of the ride. Both seek to find some form of answers to the many questions that plague their boring lives.
Erin reminded me a lot of Mary Elizabeth Winstead. In fact, even her hairstyle feels a bit like Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010), sans the odd colors. Erin is fantastic in this lead role, and manages to earn lots of empathy while also delivering some very solid laughs. The opening sequence introduces us to her intoxicated state, her willingness to break the law, and Marin’s apparent enjoyment of vomit humor. Erin won me over right away in this scene, as her performance felt so natural that it was never hard to believe that she was Kelly.
Lovato’s performance took me a little longer to warm up to. However, it becomes clear that some of the stiffness and slight awkwardness are actually a part of Miguel’s personality, and once that clicked I also warmed to Lovato. The chemistry between the two is actually what makes this film so strong. The dynamic of their friendship is that Kelly is the alpha and Miguel is the beta, though he is trying to find his own voice and confidence for all the various aspects of his life. Marin has demonstrated now that in both of his features, that he is able to write really solid characters with compelling relationships between them.
I love the feel of this film as well. It feels much like the end of the year 1999 in almost every way. From the color grading, the setting of the video store, and the music, Marin captured that year so well. This movie reminded me of Clerks quite a bit too, and that is one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much. The relationship between Kelly and Miguel reminds me of Dante and Randall, and their conversations are similarly nerd related. It was clear when I saw Monday that Marin and I were of similar tastes, and our podcast together only confirmed that we are cut from similar cloth. Thus, it isn’t surprising that this film worked for me as well.
I know that nothing that I say about Millennium Bugs can be separated from my likely bias. The thing I noticed when I first saw Monday was that Marin has the potential to be an outstanding filmmaker, which is only confirmed for me by this film. He is clearly a student of the art, and it shows in every frame. Some of the jokes don’t land and some of the story beats feel slightly underdeveloped, but overall, the movie is well put together and a joy to watch. Millennium Bus earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.