Not Another Not Another Movie (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Not Another Not Another Movie (2011)

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Watching and then sitting down to write about Not Another Not Another Movie has proven to be a microcosm of relaying a positive or negative review relative to how long ago the movie finished.  The first time I watched The Big Lebowski I hated it and two years passed before I gave it another chance.  In the case of NANAM (which, itself, is a fun acronym) if you caught me within the first ten minutes I would have said it was one of the surprise comedies of the year.  Alas, as the song goes, time keeps on slipping...slipping...slipping...

It's now been forty five minutes since the credits stopped and I'm struggling to remember what I liked so much.  The opening scenes of Hollywood big-shots forced to do z-grade motion pictures were amusing, especially given my admiration for their pluck.  But this is a prime example of how a premise cannot sustain a film.  The mockumentary of NANAM that becomes the film I watched would have worked as a splendid twenty minute short film, but stretched to an hour and a half is just too much.

There's another part of me that wants to scream, "So what?"  So what if the quality of NANAM degraded very fast, it was one of the only films this year that gave me a belly laugh.  This is the year of Kevin James as a street-fighter, what's a little harm in laughing at movie stars as they gradually fall into the abyss?  "Not much," replies NANAM, "as long as you don't want anything else."

"Will I ever be forgiven for Mad Dog Time?"

The movie opens on a hilariously exasperated Burt Reynolds as he tries to navigate his way through a low-grade clone of Reservoir Dogs.  For those of you familiar with below the barrel entertainment, this is a not so subtle dig at the mockbuster titan and heir to Roger Corman's budget-slashing throne The Asylum.  Their studio is home to such travesties as Transmorphers and The Terminators.  The dig goes even further as there are frequent references to Titanic 2 and a film that seems to be a mixture of every Bruce Willis film put to celluloid, both created by The Asylum.

NANAM is a bit meta, if you haven't guessed at this point, especially considering the film in "the real world" was also constructed on a shoestring budget.  It follows the failing studio as it tries to make just one film that will turn a profit and keeps pulling in sad celebrities and enthusiastic hopefuls that have zero talent.  The joke works best when playing with the number of slumming stars that do have a history of appearing in poorly selected roles.  It works least when the original characters take over and it tries to play with the already self-referential horrible spoof films by making a movie that would bad enough on its own.

Before those problems arise there is a lot of fun with the slumming stars.  There's Reynolds, whose never looked sadder, and Chevy Chase, probably wishing he wasn't constantly making his current Community co-stars so angry.  Then there's the sad story of the increasingly angry Wolfgang Bodison.  Don't know who that is?  Well, that's because people keep thinking Denzel Washington played him in A Few Good Men.  Most funny is Michael Madsen doing a caricature of himself from Kill Bill that amounts to him impersonating Nick Nolte in a cowboy hat.

One facet I did love was the way the zero-budget productions worked with what they had and how that carried over to the fantasy sequences of the main characters.

The slummers had me laughing, but they exit the film once their obligation was fulfilled in another fun nod to the Roger Corman films of the past.  That leaves the rest of the cast and crew to produce a film based on an overgrown man child's dadaist recreation of his screenplay about how he was abused as a child.  The concept, and certain images, is surprisingly funny and I'll certainly relate to the writer's struggle as he attempts to string together his rapidly disintegrating masterpiece in the shower.

Aside from the strange places inspiration comes from, it's also a bit funny how each of them plays to an indie-film archetype.  David Schultz is an overgrown man-child, Ellie Gerber is a woman that is whatever you project onto her, and so on.  The problem is a lot of the jokes don't go much further than that, and while I appreciate Mr. Shultz's myriad of attempts at physical humor, the twelfth or so time he ran into a chair or knocked some food over was a bit much.  None of the other characters fare better - the overacting performer is still yelling, and the man with stars in his eyes never stops scheming.

It all grated on me after a while and I didn't spend much time laughing after the first thirty minutes.  But those thirty minutes were filled with surprisingly solid comedy.  Even if the supporting players weren't given the top-grade material, they certainly put in quite the effort.  I was surprised, momentarily pleased, and able to leave without much anger.  Not the highest praise, but in a year with a comedy track record as bad as the last couple of years, I'll take what laughs are offered.

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Not Another Not Another Movie (2012)

Directed by David Schultz.
Screenplay written by Schultz, David Murphy, and James Piper.
Starring Schultz, Ellie Gerber, and many sad celebrities.

Posted by Andrew

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