The centerpiece gala at the The Feel Good Film Festival was a much-heralded US premier. It’s hard to resist films about film-making, and it’s hard to resist a mockumentary in which the subjects’ first short is a message of protest to their parents against going to school, depicting a fuzzy super8 figure leaping from a freeway bridge, entitled Why? And it’s hard to resist them when they grow up into struggling directors, not especially bright but whole-heartedly dedicated to making the best films they can. The problem is, they’ve unwittingly signed on to make a soft-core TV flick with a slick bottom-feeding production company who spot great free production values in the beautiful and sprawling ranch to which they have access.
The boys aren’t trying to be particularly arty, just tell a story with truth and logic, but that’s neither what the company wants, nor paid for. It’s all very well put together, finely detailed (at least to start with) and often very funny, from the on-set improvisation just to get the damn thing made, to the increasingly ridiculous measures to which the company goes in order to steer the project back towards the sort of dreck they can understand (best memo: “no more shadows on naked bodies”, and Kathleen Quinlan’s steely producer is a hoot).
But, as appealing as the real-life team of Brent Florence and Kenny Luper are as their fictional counterparts Bill and Amando, it’s really a one-joke movie, and as such wears inevitably thin. Nor does the crowning metaphor work as anything but a slightly mean and self-defeating joke: hard-working and well-intentioned as they are, they neither are nor think of themselves like the eagle in their next project, brought up to believe he’s a chicken until one day he finds he can soar. And it’s at least twenty minutes too long.