Case Number 10466: Small Claims Court


Paramount // 2003 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brendan Babish (Retired) // December 12th, 2006

The Charge

Unleash the fury.

The Case

Windy City Heat is the brainchild of Don Barris, Tony Barbieri, and Jimmy Kimmel (Jimmy Kimmel Live), three jokers who enjoy pranking their obnoxious and gullible "friend," Perry Caravello. Caravello is a fellow actor/comedian, but one cursed with a staggering lack of talent -- imagine Sam Kinison minus the humor -- and a powerful self-delusion. The three men have concocted a fictional detective film, titledWindy City Heat, for Perry to star in. While Perry thinks he's finally gotten his big break, this movie conceit allows his friends to concoct both elaborate pranks and minor humiliations.

If this all sounds like a 90-minute segment of Punk'd, that's because it pretty much is. And that's not a bad thing. Punk'd is one of those guilty pleasures that are criticized in the abstract, but difficult to resist while flipping through the channels. And actually, Windy City Heat is slightly superior to Punk'd, largely due to Perry's general unpleasantness, which allows the audience to laugh guilt-free at his misfortunes, as well as his gullibility, which causes him to unquestionably accept absurd and abusive situations. When the fake film's director (played with thankful restraint by Bobcat Goldthwait) asks Perry to jump into a dumpster filled with manure, Perry obliges. When the film's costume designer asks Perry to put on a thong and chaps, again, he obliges. These are only minor gags in the movie. Believe me, much odder and humiliating things happen to Perry. And most of the gags are hilarious.

However, several times my laughter was stifled by a niggling question: Is this for real? Barris, Barbieri, and Kimmel all claim the film was not staged, but I'm not so sure. There certainly are a lot of deluded people in the world, and many of these people are loathsome as well, but Perry just seems too perfect a synthesis of these qualities to be real. For the entirety of the film, which encompasses dozens of set-ups, Perry never fails to be either obnoxious or, in some cases, just hateful ("I'm not a fag. I'm homophobic, I hate fags"). But the bigger problem is how he seems to believe a major motion picture would hire him -- an actor with absolutely no film credits on his IMDb page -- over superstars like George Clooney and Brad Pitt, who he is led to believe also auditioned for the lead role. And despite an obviously small budget (the movie is allegedly only backed by a single individual) Perry goes on and on about how Windy City Heat is going to be one of the biggest films ever, and his dream of being the best actor of all time is finally being realized.

Perhaps I give humanity too much credit in assuming it couldn't produce an individual like Perry, but there were several moments that just didn't ring true. The moment that seemed most suspicious was when Perry admitted that shortly after arriving in Hollywood he received oral sex from a man. I just don't see why a raging homophobe would admit that, especially in front of a camera. That said, if the entire movie is an act, I have to give the filmmakers and Perry credit for their consistency and creativity. If it isn't an act, then this is one hilarious movie.

There are plenty of extras on the DVD that prove almost as funny as the film itself. Perry's friends have been pranking him for years, and they've compiled their greatest hits here. Additionally, for those people, like me, who are preoccupied with the question of authenticity, Perry provides an audio/video commentary. The video part includes a staffer who periodically walks in on Perry and harasses him while he delivers his commentary. The strange part, or strangest part, of Perry's commentary is that he still doesn't seem to realize the whole thing was an elaborate prank. He watches himself and talks about how impressed everyone was with his performance, especially the women. If Perry's performance is not an act, then it's truly scary how untethered from reality he is. And sad. And funny as hell.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 87

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary by Perry Karavello
* The Reveal: Footage of Perry Watching the Film for the First Time
* Classic Big Three Moments: Footage from 1992-present
* Deleted and Extended Scenes

* IMDb

* Official site