Tag Archives: mockumentary

Yeti Persisted

15 Things You Didn’t Know About Bigfoot (#1 Will Blow Your Mind)

by George Wolf

You’ve seen the t-shirts and memes, right? “Bigfoot: Undefeated Hide and Seek Champion”

It may be elusive in the wild, but Bigfoot is not at all hard to find on your movie screen of choice. 15 Things…was originally known as The VICE Guide to Bigfoot, and the new title gives you a big clue as to what this mockumentary is really searching for.

Brian (co-writer Brian Emond) is a reporter for an online news outlet (like VICE) who is longing to cover some actual news. Even when he and producer Zach (director and co-writer Zach Lamplugh) are sent to some hot war zone, it’s only so he can uncover the happening craft beer scene. So Brian’s paid his dues, which, as it turns out, doesn’t mean squat when there’s an opening on the network news side.

That slot goes to “Dirty Dolla$ign$” (Tevin Williams, hilarious) who advises Brian to “get in the shit, baby!” if he wants to move up.

The shit Brian and Zach get into starts at the Georgia Bigfoot Convention, and leads into the North Georgia foothills with YouTube Bigfoot hunter “The Cryptid Commander” (Jeffrey Stephenson). As he investigates a possible sighting, Brian tries to get the Commander to admit his Bigfoot obsession cost him the love of Jenny, and that he’s utterly full of crap.

Keeping a mockumentary tone that’s both consistent and consistently funny is not easy, and 15 Things…does stumble a bit on both counts, especially when the Blair Witch-iness of the woods takes a sudden hard left into a heroine smuggling operation.

But from clickbait to fake news to false flags, Lamplugh and Edmond do get their shots in, and some of them land with a solid LOL. Do they find the Bigfoot…or the “Bigfoot in themselves?”

If that’s the type of mocking tone that makes you giggle, there’s at least 7.5 things about this film that will have you laughing in appreciation.

He’d Vote For You

Mister America

by George Wolf

If you didn’t think Tim Heidecker’s Mister America had much in common with Downton Abbey, you’d be right…mostly. But like the big screen edition of that British saga, Mister America expands on a story in progress, superserving those that are already on board.

Fans of Heidecker’s antics may not be as numerous the Abbey faithful, but they may feel even more validated with this film, as he revisits a viral bit from 2017 that had him on trial for the murder of 20 people at a music festival.

Now, star and co-writer Heidecker re-connects with director Eric Notarnicola from their On Cinema and Decker TV projects for a mockumentary treatment of Heidecker’s attempt to unseat the San Bernardino DA who tried to lock him up.

If you know Heidecker for more than his higher profile roles (Us, Ant-Man & the Wasp), you know what’s coming, and you’ll be delighted. He can play it so straight, you start to wonder if some of this nuttiness is actually real.

Then, he goes into a barbershop to embrace racial profiling and propose a ban on rap music.

Sure, he’s riffing on the nature of today’s political climate, but the film often seems caught in between Borat-style bravado and Christopher Guest understatement.

Plenty of the bits land, but plenty others don’t, and those not already in on the joke may be left grasping for a narrative anchor and, much like newcomers to the Crawley saga, just plain bored.

Dead and Loving It

What We Do in the Shadows

by Hope Madden

Which sounds more stale, a fake documentary or a vampire movie? Maybe it’s a tie, but don’t let that dissuade you. What We Do in the Shadows – a fake documentary about vampires – is a droll gem of a film, and it feels like a gift during this dreary cinematic season.

That’s right! Believe it or not, filmmakers are still doing something interesting with vampires. It’s as if the collective artistic mind decided to retrieve the once-worthy villain from the shame of Twilight. The great Jim Jarmusch made them cool again last year with Only Lovers Left Alive. That same year, newcomer Ana Lily Amirpour made them mysterious again with A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. And now What We Do in the Shadows makes them ridiculous – but in a good way.

In the weeks leading up to the Unholy Masquerade – a celebration for Wellington, New Zealand’s surprisingly numerous undead population – a documentary crew begins following four vampire flatmates.

Viago (co-writer/co-director Taika Waititi) – derided by the local werewolf pack as Count Fagula – acts as our guide. He’s joined by Vladislav (co-writer/co-director Jemaine Clement), who describes his look as “dead but delicious.” There’s also Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) – the newbie at only 187 years old – and Petyr. Styled meticulously and delightfully on the old Nosferatu Count Orlock, Petyr is 8000 years old and does whatever he wants.

Besides regular flatmate spats about who is and is not doing their share of dishes and laying down towels before ruining an antique fainting couch with blood stains, we witness some of the modern tribulations of the vampire. It’s hard to get into the good clubs (they have to be invited in) or find a virgin. Forget about tolerating the local pack of werewolves (led by the utterly hilarious alpha Rhys Darby).

The reliably hysterical Clement is best known for his outstanding comic work in the series Flight of the Conchords, and the film benefits from the same silly, clever humor. Together he and Waititi spawned the underappreciated 2007 comedy Eagle vs Shark. Their work here is more charming and good natured, so likely more crowd pleasing.

The filmmakers know how to mine the absurd just as well as they handle the hum drum minutia. The balance generates easily the best mock doc since Christopher Guest. It’s also the first great comedy of 2015.