Judge David Johnson saw Bigfoot in his backyard. He was peeing on a tree. That's the story.
"Some people see and some people don't see. Those that don't see. You can't make them see. So, that's it. Now I'm ready to go do some research."—Dallas
From Oscilloscope, a studio that puts of some of my favorite documentaries, comes another sterling examination of the human condition…except with, you know, Bigfoot.
Facts of the Case
The film follows the exploits of best friends and Bigfoot researchers Dallas and Wayne, two guys from Ohio who have dedicated the last decade of their lives to gathering irrefutable proof of the existence of Bigfoot. They believe once they hit the jackpot with either video or photo evidence, their lives—which have been marked with struggles—will drastically improve.
But when fame is within the duo's reach, something happens that creates a rift. What started out as a cursory look at a pair of eccentric lives, turns into an emotional examination of the nature of friendship. And, you know, Bigfoot.
This is a terrific little film. While the idea of an in-depth look into the field of Bigfoot research may sound interesting—and it is—the real gold comes from the interaction between the two main characters.
Dallas and Wayne are simple dudes, both of whom have lived fairly tough lives (they each recount their respective struggles, one with the death of a loved one, the other with bouts of depression and suicidal tendencies) but have found joy in their pursuit of Bigfoot and, to a larger extent, their friendship. They're aware that their "discipline" may not have the best reputation and the world at large doesn't put much stock into the idea that Bigfoot exists, but screw that—these guys believe, and in each other they've found kindred spirits.
That's essentially Act One of the film: the ins and outs of Bigfoot research, the interesting subculture that is associated with it (one researcher makes an impassioned speech to his colleague about how Bigfoot is living the life that the Bible describes), and the biographies of Dallas and Wayne. In Act Two, it all changes, and "the event" happens, which disrupts their friendship. The compelling stuff is seeing the two deal with the fallout, especially Wayne, who's particularly distressed. Sure you might find bigger, more dramatic relationship-nuking mishaps in your garden variety soap opera, but this event, as small as it may be in the larger scheme of things, hits both of the guys directly where it hurts the most, and fundamentally alters their personal and professional relationship.
And the hits keep coming, when a well-known Bigfoot researcher from California (well-known I guess in Bigfoot research circles) hits town and decides to go out in the Ohio woods with the guys. This is a huge deal, but it doesn't go precisely the way they hoped.
The fruit that all these shenanigans yields is highly watchable and surprisingly emotional. These men, who have likely been written off by everyone they've known, have invested much in each other and their life's work—when those fail, the fallout is documentary material of the highest order. Kudos to director Jay Delaney, who never once seems like he's trying to exploit his subject and, in fact, appears to have a genuine kinship with Dallas and Wayne.
This is a fact bolstered by the playful commentary track that features the three men and cinematographer Shane Allen Davis. The extras are joined by deleted scenes; "American Dreams," the short film that inspired the film; a how-to-research-Bigfoot featurette; and a Bigfoot photo gallery. Given a clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and stereo track, Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie sports a solid technical presentation.
It's not typical at all, but this Bigfoot tale is a great moviemaking. I really, really liked it.
Not Guilty. What's that in the woods?!
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