AFF Review: ‘A Piece of Cake’ is a Kafkaesque comedy of errors

AFF Review: ‘A Piece of Cake’ is a Kafkaesque comedy of errors
Rich Sommer leads "A Piece of Cake," a farcical, Kafkaesque short film from brothers Meredith and Austin Bragg. (Photo/Moving Picture Institute)

By Cody Mello-Klein |

“A Piece of Cake” takes inspiration from a single piece of trivia – the small decorative silver balls that go on cakes are illegal in California – and spins that factoid out into a 12-minute comedy gem.

It all starts with a promise. It’s Cora’s birthday, and she wants “the little silver balls” on her cake. Her father, Jim (Rich Sommer, of “Mad Men” fame), promises that he’ll get the decorations for his daughter’s birthday. And then Cora utters the words that set Jim on an all-consuming quest: “Is this a real promise or a ‘daddy’ promise?”

Desperate to prove his ability as a father, Jim travels to every grocery store near his L.A. suburban home. Nothing. Finally, after an exasperating search, a local bakery owner tells him that dragees, as they are officially called, are illegal in California. It turns out that they’re, unsurprisingly, not safe for kids.

To reveal any more would be to spoil the laughs and absurdities that “A Piece of Cake” has in store.

“A Piece of Cake” is a comedy of escalating ludicrousness. Directing and writing duo Meredith and Austin Bragg use action movie edits and pulse pounding music to portray the most banal of missions.

What could easily feel like an extended SNL sketch instead becomes a descent into suburban madness due largely to Sommer’s commitment to the bit. He goes from irritated to frazzled to paranoid over the course of a short run time and sells every second of it.