The New Comedy Take Me to Tarzana Showcases the Valley
Consider it homegrown.
Written byDakota Kim
AboveActor Jonathan Bennett
When three millennial friends travel to Tarzana to thwart their loony, Tarzan-loving CEO’s nefarious master plan, hilarity ensues (and Tarzana shines) in the new film Take Me to Tarzana. But the movie sets its sights higher than straight comedy, as it takes a sober look at some of the top issues of our time. That nefarious plot, you see, involves spying and digital data harvesting.
Above | Large image: Oliver Cooper and Jonathan Bennett
Small images: The cast at Crazy Harry’s in Van Nuys | Aaron Brenner
Director Maceo Greenberg and producer Aaron Brenner collaborated on the project, and were inspired by events like Facebook’s 2018 Cambridge Analytica data-harvesting scandal. While the adventure film is fun and wacky, and aimed at millennials, it also delves into digital privacy concerns. Aaron cites classics like Office Space and The Big Lebowski as inspirations.
“Mike Judge and the Coen Brothers are really great at taking you on hilarious adventures. We were hoping to create a similar vibe with Take Me to Tarzana, but we also wanted to subvert the traditional slacker comedy by taking a look at darker issues like data privacy, gender and income inequality, and student loan debt,” Aaron says.
“The Valley plays a big role— the Valley is Los Angeles, but it’s not the glitz and glam. It’s the normal, relatable space where normal people live…”
Aaron is an Emmy Award-winning producer (LA Kings: 2012 Stanley Cup Moments) and executive producer at Silo Films. He grew up in Reseda, attended Van Nuys High School, and lives in Northridge. Maceo is cofounder of the production company Story Well. The two were connected through Terrance Stewart, a mutual friend and the film’s cinematographer.
In the movie, disillusioned coworkers Miles (Andrew Creer) and Jane (Samantha Robinson) and their party-happy pal Jameson (Jonathan Bennett) find even more chaos in Tarzana than they expected. Tarzan of the Jungle gives both the film—and the city of Tarzana—its name. The city was the site of a ranch owned by author Edgar Rice Burroughs, who wrote the Tarzan novels. Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., which manages the Burroughs estate, sponsored the film and donated memorabilia and props. “Viewers will see that in the home of the Tarzan-obsessed CEO, there’s tons of great memorabilia and props from that private collection,” Aaron shares.
Above: Samantha Robinson and Maria Conchita Alonso doing a scene at Hazeltine Market in Van Nuys
The film is also a coming-of-age story for younger millennials. “As millennials are entering the workforce, they’re finding it’s not as glamorous as they were hoping and not a dream job right out of the gate, and this movie does a good job of showing that,” Aaron notes.
The film was shot at numerous locations across the Valley from Tarzana to Studio City, including Pinz Bowling Alley in Studio City and the dive bar Crazy Harry’s in Winnetka. “These are all places I spent time as a kid and it was great to be able to shoot our film in them.”
The Valley itself is a character in the film. “The Valley plays a big role—the Valley is Los Angeles, but it’s not the glitz and glam. It’s the normal, relatable space where normal people live, not the hustle and bustle and craziness of Los Angeles.”
For Aaron, making the movie was like going down memory lane. “Looking back, I had my first job on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City at Echo Entertainment. It was a great place to start my career, diving head-first into production.” The production crew had to shut down the Boulevard, illuminate it, then run camera cars down it. LAPD provided traffic control to keep everyone safe during the shoot. “We shot overnight, in the early morning hours while most of Tarzana was fast asleep,” says Aaron. “Ventura Boulevard is an iconic Valley landmark, and being able to shoot there was special.”
The film debuted at the 20th annual Valley Film Festival at The Plant movie theater in Van Nuys, and received three nominations—including one for Best Picture— at the NoHo CineFest. Movie watchers can check it out on major digital streaming platforms including Apple iTunes, YouTube and Amazon Prime.