"KEROUAC," an off-beat biography on the bard of the Beat, falls into that fishy category called docu-drama, a bastard hybrid devised to jazz up the dusty documentary form. Mostly what you get now is bad acting along with the usual talking heads, archival film and crumbling clips.

"Kerouac" is no exception, with Jack Coulter, a Jack Kerouac look-alike, starring in the low-budget look at the cult hero's life. Unfortunately, director-producer John Antonelli restructured the movie to feature more of Coulter, "who just seemed so right." Now his sappy enactments of big moments in Kerouac's life dominate the film along with his flat readings of Kerouac's rhythmic work.

Coulter doesn't really hear the beat, and it's especially obvious when we see a clip of Kerouac himself reading from his masterwork, "On the Road." His coffeehouse-style performance is as percussive as a drum solo, as cool as the docu-drama's jazz soundtrack.

Kerouac cronies William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Herbert Huncke recall Kerouac, painting a fascinating word portrait of this restless genius and self-destructive cultural icon. And the conventional interviews tell us more about the subject than the drama does. Actor Peter Coyote, no stranger to the beat movement, narrates.

KEROUAC (Unrated) - At the Inner Circle.