Duel of the Linguist Mages

In Scotto Moore’s new sci-fi comedy, two corporate market researchers have discovered the extraordinary potential of "morphemes," the smallest meaningful linguistic units. To be exact, they have 108 morphemes to influence human behavior. Bradford (Curtis Eastwood) sees this as a way to win political elections, while Olivia (Jen Moon) sees this—why not?—as a way to take over the world. She enlists the assistance of unwitting Nate (James Weidman), a computer programmer who devises an algorithm to combine the linguistic units into “power morphemes,” which can be used as weapons of mass destruction. Naturally Olivia must battle her former teacher. (The two actually strike poses à la Yoda versus Dooku; and you can imagine the laser lights flying from their fingertips.) Moore’s success here, as both writer and director, is finding the humor in such confrontational moments. Nate, who narrates the story, provides consistently funny commentary. Some scenes are even replayed in slow motion. Moore does, however, overextend his sci-fi premise: Duel runs long, and much of the second act feels superfluous. But it’s still good entertainment, filled with thought-provoking notions and moments of sincere laughter. BRENT ARONOWITZ (See Brent's full review.)

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Mon., Feb. 7, 8 p.m. Starts: Jan. 21. Continues through Feb. 19, 2011

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