Mark Borchardt, your 15 minutes are here. The only problem is they last 100 minutes.
Mark Borchardt, paperboy, bad father, indifferent son and wannabe filmmaker, this is your story. Mark, don't ask why. Just enjoy your luck. As for the rest of us, the question is: Are we richer for our new knowledge of Mark and his example of grit and the power of dreams and the beacon of the imagination? May I have the envelope please? The answer is: NAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
"American Movie" is a documentary filmed in Menomonee Falls, Wis., where we follow Mark for two years as he scuffles at the margins of society to get his 30-minute movie "Coven" finished, despite the absence of money, script, extras, props, special effects, and love of family and despite the annoying presence of his three kids, his new girlfriend, his wife's boyfriend and the people hanging around making a movie about him! It doesn't help that he has zero talent, scant discipline and little charm.
The director, Chris Smith, is evidently under the impression he's onto something. He loves 30-year-old Mark, whom he follows through thick and thin--well, mostly thin. He loves his nearly catatonic ex-doper pal Mike Schank, who faces the camera with utter blankness masqueraded by a little forced giggle. He loves Mark's grumpy Uncle Bill, who lives in a trailer and coughed up the three grand that Mark spent on "Coven" and on whose good side Mark must always stay. Watch Mark kiss butt! He loves Mark's grumpy dad, Cliff, his baffled mom, Monica, and his friend Ken Keen. He thinks they're all American Gothics and he's Grant Wood. Except he's not: He's only Chris Smith.
The movie's 100 minutes seem to last three decades and Mark, who bullies and wheedles and whines, soon grows tiresome. He's a manipulator, as all artists must be, but he lacks an artist's talent and discipline, and it's hard to see "Coven" (which, unsurprisingly, stars Borchardt) as anything other than a vanity project.
About every 15 minutes, someone says something funny. But that's pretty much the rate of humor in real life, isn't it?
Don't you laugh once every 15 minutes? So why pay $7 for a laugh ratio that's on par with sitting in an office?
American Movie (100 minutes, at the Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle) is rated R for profanity and amateur-horror-movie gore.