At first glance The Brass Teapot may look like the latest in a long line of films that are examining the classic moral question of good versus evil and whether or not good can be tempted to become evil. But director Ramaa Mosley and writer Tim Macy have actually crafted a movie that examines much more relevant and timely questions. Why is it that people think that “stuff” equals happiness? Why is it when they get the stuff they want, they still aren’t happy?
“Alice” (Juno Temple) and “John” (Michael Angaro) are a very happily married young couple, who are struggling financially in their otherwise nearly idyllic existence. True they have a problem with a crass landlord, relatives who would try the patience of Job and John’s boss; who could have driven Carrie Nation to alcoholism. Then there’s the issue of Alice’s lack of a graduate degree preventing her from getting the kind of job she wants and believe she is qualified for.
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The situation gets worse and then while out in the countryside for a drive, they are involved in a car accident. As a result Alice wanders into a roadside antique store and decides to abscond with a beautiful brass teapot she’d seen the shop’s owner (an elderly lady) hiding earlier.
Alice is doing a routine task with the teapot nearby when she burns herself. The teapot rattles and she finds hundred-dollar bills inside of it. Soon she realizes that by causing herself or John severe pain, the teapot will give them lots and lots of money. They find inventive ways to cause each other and themselves pain. Alice gets a “Brazilian” waxing, John gets into a fight in a bar and more. But soon the teapot is giving them less and less money and they must find new ways to get it to pay off.
Meanwhile, a pair of Hasidic Jewish men are attempting to get the teapot back, claiming it was stolen. Alice is hiding information she’s learned about it from John because she doesn’t want to give it up. “Dr. Ling” (Stephen Park) comes to town to try to talk them into giving him the teapot. He is from the Theosophist Society, an organization that has known about the true nature of the teapot for centuries and has spent that time trying to prevent anyone else from being corrupted by it. As Alice becomes more enmeshed in the teapot’s “power” the question is whether or not she and John can survive.
The story is clever, the premise original and the execution nearly flawless. There is plenty of humor and while much of it is dark, it doesn’t go too far in any way. Temple and Angaro have great chemisty (they are now dating in real-life) and the rest of the cast are thoroughly enjoyable in their roles. Bobby Moynihan and Alia Shawkat as the married couple who are the best friends of John and Alice are particularly good. It is a lovely film visually, making great use of color and costumes.
You should pour yourself a large cup from The Brass Teapot.