I'm sensing a pattern developing here. And I don't know if this is some sort of regional difference kind of thing, or maybe a generational age gap / cultural climate situation, but you and I have very different visions of "comedy" as such.
First of all, though, the film was very well edited in post and you kep the story line moving in a consistent direction throughout. I had no trouble follwing it and it was very cohesive in that respect. Nice job on that. Also, the film quality was nice and crisp throughout the majority of the film and movement of the actors in frame kept to the rules nicely and was easy on the eye. Good work.
I'm reviewing this film as a comedy because that's how you classified it in the description. (Unless I misunderstood you.) Is it funnier than the PB&J? Yes. But to allow me to get a bit further inside your head for purposes of understanding your future productions, could you share with us your intent, speaking as the filmmaker, as to at what point the film left the "setup" for the joke, if you will, and begins delivering the comedic value? (Before you get all up in arms, let me continue. I know that might have come off harsh sounding, but it's not.) Here's my issue on that score... I watched the first, oh... I'd have to say 70% of the film and I wasn't seeing anything that looked like it was intending to be funny. I thought it was more of a "set up for the joke" if you will. Then I think I finally started to see the humorous portions of it during.... 1.) the ping pong scene, and 2.) the dog attack, obviously. That got some laughs out of me. So, if that's what you intended, then I get it and well done on the comedy angle. If the whole thing was supposed to be funny, however, then I once again failed to get most of the humor. It looked more like trying to depict the protagonist as being really pathetic and sad, where nobody would play with him, talk to him, no friends, etc.
There were the two scenes of playing instruments, piano and later drums, where I'll confess I thought I knew where the film was going. I was kind of waiting for this to turn into a spoof music video where the actor was going to show up on stage lip synching the song. That would have been a hilarious spoof, with a younger male belting out that classic tune, perhaps with some fake tears rolling down his face or something. But then the music video aspect of it just sort of disappeared and I saw I was on the wrong track with where you were going.
On to the technical aspects. Good framing throughout most of it. I was shocked to see that, unlike your later work, the grading on this one was not only *not* massively contrasted to the point of being dark, but in fact some of the outdoor scenes in particular looked a little on the "washed out" side and almost undergraded. It's kind of the opposite of most of what I've seen you do. Then again, you point out that this was one of your earlier pieces and maybe your preferences and choices in post edit grading, etc. have changed over time.
As to the camera work, focus, etc. it was pretty solid throughout, but a couple shots in particular threw me off which I wanted to ask about. The first was the short scene in the park where the actor is pushing the swing. The camera focus jumps back and forth twice between focusing on the actor's face and then on the swing in extreme closeup as it swings in and out of the frame. Was that intentional or was the camera on autofocus and just trying to keep up with the shifting center of field? If it was intentional, I definitely didn't like it. Rather than some sort of "artsy" effect I found it disorienting.
The second one was the piano shot. It starts out low, but it's very dark and up so close that I had no idea it was a piano until the angle of view reached up over the top. Then the focus seemed to stay for an uncomfortable period on the wood ofthe piano lid, with the actor way back beyond the focus zone, well back in the depth of field. Then it finally shifted to focus on the actor. That one threw me off a bit.
The fades on the music where it disappers to allow for some dialogue and background noise, then cutting back into the song were kind of abrupt and put me off a bit. But obviously the choice of music (not getting into any copyright issues here) was perfect for the theme and you timed the action to it really well. I especially liked the cut to the drum set when the percussion in the song kicks in.
Given that, as you say, this was one of your earliest works, I gave it a three. I think I'd have needed to laugh a lot more to bump it all the way to a four. Still a nice job overall, though.