Judge David Johnson has a confession for you. He wears lifts in his shoes.
America needed a hero.
Action movies are fertile ground for parody, no doubt. Can this effort capitalize on the potential?
Facts of the Case
During his heyday, no one was bigger than Frank Sledge (David Leitch). A former dancer, Sledge launched a wildly successful career in action movies. With such hits as Jimbo, Under Attack and Bloodfist, Sledge carved out a reputation as a hard-partying prima donna who could simultaneously fill theater seats and drive directors insane.
The film follows the rollercoaster career arc as Sledge goes from anonymity to notoriety and back to anonymity until he finally discovers his calling: the blending of the action film and the musical.
Disc Case Synopsis 101: Don't be so presumptuous to say your movie is the "best since ________ " because chances are, it's not. According to whoever wrote the summation for Confessions of an Action Star there hasn't been a more "off-the-cuff, character drive, star filled comedy since Best in Show." That's a bold claim and—surprise!—the film fails to measure up.
Look, I love the idea here and there are a handful of funny moments, but too many comedic misfires and a pacing that falls apart at the end prevents Confessions from being all it can be. Writer and star David Leitch turns in a fun performance as Sledge. In a role that could have been ridiculous, Leitch underplays it and it's the right choice. His Sledge is clueless, sure, and fall-over-himself drunk at times, but he's got a sympathetic aspect that neutralizes any off-putting behavior. I actually rooted for the guy, so points awarded there.
While I dig the character, the beaucoup film parodies, which represent the core of the humor, are wildly uneven. Who hasn't seen spoofs of Rambo or Rocky? Unless they were scripted by the geniuses behind Meet the Spartans or, perhaps, a herd of yaks, they were likely more amusing than what's here. OK, maybe that's harsh. The parodies aren't malevolently bad, just completely forgettable. Especially The Matrix musical send-up, which sounds like it could be funny, but simply goes on forever. A sour note to end on, alas.
But let's not end the review on a sour note, huh? I'd still give Confessions a mild recommendation. The parodies don't work, but Leitch's performance is fun, there's a boatload of B-list celebrities (and one noteworthy A-lister) who are self-deprecating and the montage of Sledge fighting guys with his dance moves is actually pretty funny. Also, though it's unrated, the film is fairly inoffensive.
The DVD is fine: the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is clean and the 2.0 stereo effective. Extras include a making-of featurette, the Sledge short film that inspired the feature, trailers, production shots and a lively commentary track.
The idea has juice and some moments are funny, but overall Confessions of an Action Star is a missed opportunity. No one likes their action movies more than me and a strong parody would be welcome, but this isn't it.
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