Looking back, I don’t think I read any John Steinbeck in high school, despite being from northern California and not far from the settings of novels like Cannery Row. We read the older classics and there was plenty of Kurt Vonnegut, but I may have never actually cracked a Steinbeck. And now, I’m not sure I even want to: This great short film/parody of East of Eden is going around online, and it may be the only Steinbeck primer I need.
See, Zachary Quinto produced the short with PERIODS. Films, and it’s a lot funnier than I would have expected for a) the source material and b) Penn Badgley starring as tortured bean farmer Caleb Trask. See, he and his brother Aron (Philip Quinaz) are identical twins in every way except one — wink – but Caleb is a layabout, bro type while his twin goes off to seminary school and comes back with a fetching young fiance. Oh, and their mother is a whore. As you might’ve guessed from the film company’s name, the writers and actors will gladly stoop to bodily humor; and yet, this actually gives Penn a lot of room to play with comedic timing. Things get a little Mamet at one point when Caleb and his dad just keep calling each other “dick,” but the bit is never overplayed.
East of Eden is actually premiering at the HollyShorts Film Festival today, but you get to watch it via YouTube. In five minutes, I know all about the Trask brothers’ rivalry and motherly angst, plus I got to see Dan Humphrey be funny when he’s not snidely commenting on Upper East Side mind games. Now that I think about it, he was pretty funny in John Tucker Must Die, as well; let’s get this kid more comedy roles!