We’ve been waiting anxiously for this moment. I’ve passionately waved my can of Tecate in the air and belted out the chorus to three Oasis songs already. The ground and walls have been shaking as we’ve swayed back and forth, rockin’ and a-rollin’ to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”
But we were all really looking forward to the man who, while hidden behind dark sunglasses, would take the microphone to perform Captain & Tennille’s “Muskrat Love.”
Kestrin Pantera (founder of the RVIP mobile karaoke lounge and writer/director/star of “Let’s Ruin It with Babies,” the film that immortalizes it) comes up behind me, wearing flaw-free winged eyeliner, tapered false eyelashes and a floor-length silk robe.
“There is a rain stick right behind you. I think this is the perfect song for that,” she says before disappearing toward the front of the bus amidst a glow of rope lights and multicolored laser projectors.
The RV parked in front of the Arena Cinema in Hollywood for the Los Angeles premiere of “Let’s Ruin It with Babies” on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Following the screening, a theaterful of people filed onto the tricked-out, customized RV (equipped with a full bar, a lounge area and, of course, a karaoke cabaret, all of which are free of charge all the time) for revelry that lasted long into the night.
The RVIP karaoke bus is a full-time business for Pantera and her husband Jonathan Grubb, who drive it around town, allowing all manner of riff-raff on and off at their leisure, and attend events such as the South by Southwest festival. “Let’s Ruin It with Babies” tells the based-on-real-life story of how they decided to spoil all that fun by having children.
The film follows Channing (Pantera) as she embarks on a cross-country roadtrip in the RV with only herself and a few friends to take charge after her husband Chaz (Grubb) is suddenly required to stay home in Los Angeles for work. Before leaving for the trip, Channing is pressured by a number of outside sources who remind her that her biological clock is ticking, although she doesn’t feel ready to have children and doesn’t want to slow the upward momentum of her career.
Grubb is very obviously not an actor, and the film is obviously amateurish at times, but it’s nonetheless cleanly made, likeable, and a great showcase of Pantera’s creative talent.
There are some great, well-written scenes as the RVIP’s roadtrip continues. Two particularly standout bits include a maniacal mechanic (Patrick Daniel) who tries to swindle the crew out of some money when a broken fanbelt leaves them stranded in the middle of nowhere, and a prophecy in the form of Linda Phillips-Palo, an older woman who “only gave birth to dog-children.”
The film is ultimately quite endearing despite (or maybe, in part, because of) its flaws.
Channing’s internal debate on motherhood frames the film and is probably relatable to other late-20s hipsters going through a quarter-life crisis (I, personally, relate a lot more to Bunnie, the ne’er-do-well road companion who gets drunk and fucks things up). The film could have been improved with more focus and backstory on the bus, though, as that makes a rather more unique and compelling story.
Back on the bus, I input my go-to karaoke song choice on the high-tech tablet system and put on the best possible performance in about three feet of space, packed to the brim with partiers. I think the RVIP lounge accomplishes its goal of creating a magical experience for passersby who hop onboard for the night.
I certainly hope that I stumble across it again.
‘Let’s Ruin It with Babies’
Release Date: Dec. 5, 2013
Director: Kestrin Pantera
Starring: Kestrin Pantera, Jonathan Grubb and Eva Kim
Rating: Not Rated