by Susan Starr and Kevin Kocur
Susan sez: “Tattoo, A Love Story” is an amusing low-budget indie film about opposites attracting and the deeper meaning to be found in tattoos. The aptly named Sara Frost (Megan Edward) is an elementary school teacher who is a raging control freak. She tries to control every aspect of her world, down to what her fiancée wears. Virgil (Virgil Mignanelli) is a Harley riding tattoo artist who is sweet, sensitive, and likes romantic comedies. He is frustrated in his work because none of his customers are interested in getting his custom art tattooed on their bodies. He is especially irritated by the demand for the Deadhead “dancing bear”. After Sara is exposed to the rebel world of tattoos and motorcycles, she begins to question her rigid life and starts trying to figure out what she really wants.
The action supposedly takes place in Boise, ID, but people’s reactions to tattoos and motorcycles seem more appropriate for Mayberry. One character calls tattoos “Satan’s mascara”. A parent calls the school to complain after Sara is seen hanging around with Virgil, because all tattooed Harley riders are scary criminals who probably belong to the Hell’s Angels. This is miles away from the world I live in, where people of all ages and classes ride motorcycles and get tattoos.
There are short interviews with people telling the story of how they got their tattoos interspersed throughout the movie. The “love story” of the title could be about people falling in love with tattoos rather than Sara and Virgil falling in love. Virgil goes on at length about the deeper meaning behind tattooing.
The movie is funny with lots of quotable dialogue. My only issue with the movie was that the pacing was a little slow. Indeed, the movie dragged enough that I had time to remind Kevin that two years ago he promised to design (and pay for) a shooting star tattoo for me and has yet to do so.
Kevin sez: I’m confused. “Tattoo” didn’t even feature Herve Villechaize. What a rip! Still, there are some funny scenes. A memorable one was of Virgil, after being brought to class for a show and tell assignment, giving a box of colored markers to a kid and most of the class ends up with “temporary” tattoos after recess. Funny stuff.
The film has some likeable characters. Virgil’s kinda cool, and his roomate (a total sex fiend) is pretty funny. As is the tattoo parlor’s former owner who now spends all of his time hanging out at the tattoo shop getting stoned. Too bad for him that the tatoo business didn’t offer a decent dental plan (hint: no front teeth).
Virgil rides a pretty nice Heritage Softail; always without a helmet, and sometimes without eye protection. But one thing did puzzle me. When Virgil finally offers Sara a ride on his righteous steed, a helmet magically appears on the seat. While I may not have perused every page of the Screamin’ Eagle catalog, I’m pretty certain that I would have noticed a seat that pops up helmets much like a Kleenex dispenser.
There were a few funny quotes throughout the film. There’s a scene where Virgil is questioned by someone who “doesn’t get it”. Virgil is asked what happens when it’s too cold to ride a motorcycle. His response is that “It’s never too cold to be cool”. Sorry Virg, but I like being warm. If wearing heated riding gear during the colder months means I’m not cool, then hey—it’s hip to be square! (apologies to Huey Lewis)
And as for Susan’s promised tattoo, it’s time to make good on that promise. I really hope that she likes bears.