My Name is Moe is an American short film that attempts to deal with the very serious and widespread issue of eating disorders. It centres around the eponymous character (played by McNeely himself), an emotionally withdrawn, overweight teen who is in desperate need of encouragement, guidance, and care. His character is visually coded as the troubled outsider by way of black-painted fingernails, constantly plugged-in earphones, and a forlorn countenance frequently enveloped by the hood of his sweater.
Throughout the course of the film the young boy is verbally or gesturally mocked – first by a small boy at bus stop (awkwardly curtailed by his apologetic mother), then by a foul-mouthed passerby disgruntled by an accidental collision and, most disturbingly, by his gym teacher, who initially appears to be one of the few voices of inspiration and support, but eventually reveals himself to be an impatient and unsympathetic bully. It is no surprise then, that Moe is irritable, sullen, and fearful of social settings. He receives little in the way of useful advice from the people he needs the most – his parents argue about him when out of sight but within earshot. The best advice his mother can offer is to “just remember to be confident and talk to people,” as she insists on driving him to a party to which he’d rather find his own way.
It is this realisation of finding one’s own way that we sense Moe might gradually achieve, but there is an aching sense in the background that for many others this journey can be far more painful and destructive. The film acknowledges that there are no easy answers or quick fix solutions and understands acceptance as a valuable social principle.
McNeely’s direction is committed to realism over dramaticism, which comes off mostly via its visual elements. The handheld shots that follow the protagonist from behind as he walks through pedestrianised spaces are a particular highlight, and the camera frames Moe closely with the type of devotion and attention that he otherwise lacks from his cohorts. Perhaps less convincing are the performances from most of the cast, along with a fairly unextraordinary script and uneven editing. These sketchier elements can be forgiven on the basis that the work has been produced on little to no budget, and the generosity of the cast and crew to this noble effort should not be ignored.