Top 40 pop music is often sneered at for being a creative dead zone – and not unfairly, either. In Pop Music, however, director Patrick Muhlberger uses the likes of Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake to concoct a wacky treat of a short film.

Charting a man-child’s attempts to get his niece the perfect moment with her crush, Pop Music is able to succeed on multiple levels. One one level it is a story about adolescent love. At the same time, it is a nostalgia-laden parable for an older audience. These two narratives are wrapped together by a sincere affection for all things pop.

What’s perhaps most impressive about the film is that it showcases Muhlberger’s versatility as a writer/director. He is able to produce great performances from young actors. Bella Shepard as the niece demonstrates a keen sense of comic timing, while still remaining grounded in the reality of the situation. He also has a firm grasp on how to make an exciting dance sequence/fight scene. It makes fun of various clichés in music videos, such as the gratuitous use of slow motion, as well as the juxtaposition of cheap sentimentality with kitschy action. But in the end, those same clichés are ultimately celebrated for their broad appeal, and how they to bring people together.

While the ability to mimic a certain style is certainly impressive, it is the script which makes Pop Music compelling. Muhlberger hints at a larger world that the characters live in, which is best exemplified by the unseen character John Choi. This is what makes Pop Music stick in the mind after it has finished. Muhlberger takes a lot from music videos, but in the end he has created something that is entirely his own.

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INFORMATION

CAST: Elisha Yaffe, Bella Shepard, Brion Brionson, Denver Milord, Rachel Staman

DIRECTOR: Patrick Muhlberger

WRITER: Patrick Muhlberger

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: John Veleta

EDITOR: Joshua Cole

SYNOPSIS: After her attempt to dance with her crush is thwarted, Jessie (Shepard) calls on her katana wielding Uncle Trevor (Yaffe) to set things right. What follows is a crazy adventure, where Trevor must confront his past.