If nothing else, this review finally proves what we've long suspected: Judge Brett Cullum enjoys orgies featuring dwarfs.
Lanky Man: You know what they say. Lesbians—better than e-mail.
Billed with the tag line "a lowbrow comedy for the highbrow crowd," My Big Fat Independent Movie already admits defeat in battle. It's trying to be the Scary Movie of the indie world, but the few people who are well-versed enough to get all the indie references in this flick are too smart to sit through an hour and a half of jokes that aim this low. What a shame, because if any topic deserves to have the pretentious poop taken out of it, it would be those movies that routinely premiere at Landmark Theatres across the country. This gang bravely spoofs arthouse fare such as Memento, Swingers, Pi, Pulp Fiction, Amelie, Reservoir Dogs, Waking Life, The Good Girl, Glengarry Glen Ross, Run Lola Run, Dancer in the Dark, Secretary, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, El Mariachi, Mulholland Dr., The Hours, Sex, Lies and Videotape, Christopher Walken, Timecode, Far From Heaven, Guy Ritchie, Kill Bill, Requiem for a Dream, Kevin Smith, and just about any big indie hit (or non-hit) in the last decade. Sound like a big order? You betcha. The whole thing plays out as if the Zucker brothers of Airplane decided to tackle the world of indie cinema in the '90s.
Plot-wise there isn't much, save for some disparate elements from various independent movies loosely cobbled together. Two pop culture-referencing "Pulp Fiction" hit men mistakenly pick up a "Swinger" thinking he is the third criminal to pull off their "botched" robbery of a warehouse in Vegas. They end up kidnapping a "Good Girl" from a supermarket, and have lunch at a "Big Fat Greek" diner. They enlist the help of a guy who is memory-challenged and has to write things on his body. Meanwhile, a group of militant rabbis are tracking down a genius who has figured out the recipe for the perfect corned beef sandwich, and a crazy French girl on a bicycle is following the "Swinger," whom she spies on "Mulholland Drive."
The big problem with My Big Fat Independent Movie is it aims for the toilet bowl, with scatological references more at home in an episode of South Park or a short skit from Saturday Night Live. Lesbians, anal sex, and scantily clad women are the butt of all the jokes. There are some witty sequences, including a great musical number recalling Bjork from Dancer in the Dark, but mostly it's terribly juvenile and crude. If you're going to spoof the independent film scene, you could stand to make things more subtle and less obvious. Why take the low road of Scary Movie when you could assemble something more along the lines of the sly wit of Waiting For Guffman? If you love base humor, this movie will work, but you also have to be sophisticated enough to have seen most of these films. I'm not above admitting a pair of lesbians standing next to a gay cowboy and a homeless person will get a chuckle out of me. But I'm a sick puppy who cheered when they threw a dwarf in to the middle of an orgy scene. Still, the laughs were few and far between even for my poor-taste sensibilities.
But you do have to give it up—these guys tried, and got this thing up there on the screen. And guess who they are? They're geeks from the website Film Threat. Chris Gore, the writer and producer, is strongly affiliated with that site, and surprisingly, he looks really cool in the "making of" featurette (he even has a tan!). The movie is a shout-out to all the nerd homies who compulsively buy DVDs and go to comic conventions. This whole project is the fruition of the celluloid fantasies of guys who spend way too much time looking at films. Just imagine what would happen if DVD Verdict decided to make a film. Okay, now that your mind is reeling…
Anchor Bay treats the film like an indie classic. The transfer is sharp and clear, and the digital blood effects come off nicely. My Big Fat Independent Movie was shot in HD digital video, so everything looks amazingly polished. The surround sound is punchy, and the climatic shoot-out delivers the appropriate bombast. The commentary is a little too enamored with the movie to be insightful, but it is fun to hear the DVD geeks narrate their own film. The "making of" featurette is a lot of fun, and almost cooler than the feature itself. There's a trailer that is remarkably well cut, and pretty dang funny (they knew where the best jokes are). Click on the guns of the hit men in the special features menu, and you'll find an Easter Egg featuring Jason Mewes recording his part as the "Swinger's" answering machine. DVD geeks know how to make a disc, and I imagine seeing this presentation is better than catching it on the big screen.
My Big Fat Independent Movie is worth checking out if you're a film geek who doesn't mind crude humor. It's a movie with a great premise—spoofing all the pretentious stereotypes that have emerged in arthouses over the last decade. It'll be a rare match for people who know enough about the movies, and yet still can appreciate an anal sex joke thrown in with a character from Amelie. You know who you are, and you'll enjoy it. If you like dwarfs in orgies, then go for it. Otherwise, it's a lowbrow comedy built around highbrow subject material. An uncomfortable match to be sure, and I wish it was far funnier than it is. Still, you gotta give props to a bunch of DVD geeks with a dream. It gives hope for all of us sitting out here in the dark, endlessly spinning discs and thinking of what we would do if we could make our own independent movie.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• Commentary with Director Philip Zlotorynski and Writer Producer Chris Gore
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