Screedlers, you've got to check this out. Comedian Peter Smith—who appeared recently on episode 59 of the Humor and the Abject podcast—stars as United States Postal Service Agent 4505 in Long Term Delivery, a new short narrative film from director Jake Honig. The script was co-written with Honig's sister, comedian and photographer Sandy Honig, whom you may recognize as one third of the Three Busy Debras (who just got a pilot ordered from Adult Swim) with and Alyssa Stonoha and friend of the pod Mitra Jouhari. You can watch Long Term Delivery streaming in its entirety at the end of this review.
Smith's character is part of a (secret) special unit within the USPS devoted to the delivery of long-overdue packages. After uncovering a battered box at a sorting facility with "MOM" scrawled cryptically upon it—a Christmas gift apparently a decade overdue—the extremely dedicated Agent 4505 hits the roads of Upstate New York in a quest to courier the parcel to its mysterious destination.
In the role, Smith brings their usual comic excellence, a signature knack for inciting riotous laughs with minimal—but masterful—eyebrow gestures. Noteworthy though is the exciting neurosis underscoring the performance. Agent 4505's obsession with delivering the package hints at something disturbing, personality-wise. The film leaves the agent's life outside of this mini-quest unaddressed, which almost begs for future narrative iterations to give us glimpses into what Agent 4505 is like off the clock. In each interaction with supporting characters, Smith exhibits more subtle tics, suggesting an unwholesome possession. Does the agent have so few person-to-person interactions in their own life that handing a package off to a stranger is their sole source of purpose?
Comedian Annie Donley lends voice talent as the radio dispatcher, a detached USPS employee who doesn't share Agent 4505's enthusiasm for making good on the organization's promise of delivery in spite of snow, rain, heat, or gloom of night. A lead from a different USPS employee sends Agent 4505 to the Phoenicia Diner off New York Highway 28, giving Honig a chance to morph a bustling and popular destination for locals and road trippers alike into something straight out of Twin Peaks. While the production as a whole is certainly a vehicle for Smith to demonstrate their prowess as an actor, I've got to give a serious nod to the rest of the cast. Each of them, in their short time on screen, embodies assertiveness and pathos, those complicated qualities that make for solid comedic presence.
Cinematographer Conor Murphy deserves credit for giving each scene a painterly framing; virtually any random still from the film would translate seamlessly to a critically-adored photography exhibition. Ariel Loh's scoring is also top notch, equal parts indie dramedy plinky minimalism and campy pulp spy soundtrack. Long Term Delivery wasn't even something that I'd heard of before catching a tweet about it today, and now I'm in a rabbit hole looking into the work of everyone associated with its production. Here's to hoping that somebody with $way sees it and realizes they've encountered fertile soil. I'd love to see a whole series about Agent 4505 and the idiosyncrasies of overdue package delivery in the great State of New York.