This week, we dig a couple of movies out of the Netflix stream that try to offend our good taste and our delicate sensibilities. Take your pick and have a few laughs this weekend.
‘The People vs. George Lucas’
Trying to do what ‘Trekkies’ did for ‘Star Trek’ fandom, ‘The People vs. George Lucas’ brings light to the frustrations and disenchantment experienced by fans of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. At first, the idea may sound a bit redundant, since the internet often seems devoted to voicing one’s anger toward George Lucas and his endless tinkering with his sci-fi fantasy classics. But the movie from documentarian Alexandre O. Philippe is actually quite engaging. It has interviews with dedicated admirers from around the world, and shows some hilariously creative fan films. Several interview clips with Lucas, none of which were done directly for this doc, are shrewdly used to demonstrate that he has become the corporate system he once promised to rally against.
When the movie keeps its attention on the sorely disillusioned enthusiasts, it has much to enjoy and laugh at – not so much at the fanatics as their individual reactions. But when Philippe makes attempts at a balanced discussion on the extent to which the public can claim cultural ownership of the franchise, the film goes sour and uninteresting, and gives clear preference to one side of the argument over the other. Every time a valid point is made, whether about Lucas’ reasoning behind the various changes or a film scholar’s opinions, Philippe quickly dismisses them by allowing the disappointed fans more exposure, which shows obvious favoritism in the debate. Nevertheless, Philippe entertains and concludes on an admirable high-note, proving that no matter the dispute, ‘Star Wars’ has left an indelible mark on our culture.
‘Poolboy: Drowning out the Fury’
With Cinco de Mayo upon us, it seems reasonable to enjoy something with some sort of Mexican theme attached, even if it’s complete gibberish and has nothing to do with the beer-guzzling celebration. ‘Poolboy,’ a micro-budget film from Garrett Brawith, director of the upcoming ‘FDR: American Badass!’ movie, is definitely balls-to-the-wall garbage. But in a good way, meaning that the idiotic nonsense of a turf war between two pool-cleaning businesses (one white, the other Mexican) is a deliberate attempt to be as stupid and offensive as humanly possible. The real shocker is that this Z-grade production with lots of stock footage and god-awful CG graphics actually manages to entertain and generate laughs.
Part of the movie’s absurd weirdness and enjoyment is its meta angle, in which it pretends to be an unearthed action film from 1990 that was banned for the last twenty years for being too violent, degrading and apparently thought-provoking. The one-eyed director, Saint James St. James (Ross Patterson), introduces the movie as ‘Poolboy II’ and occasionally interrupts the pace with off-the-wall commentary. Kevin Sorbo of ‘Hercules’ TV series fame stars as a Vietnam vet returning home and wanting to start his own pool-cleaning business, until he discovers that the Mexicans, led by Danny Trejo, have already cornered the market and don’t care for the competition. A good deal of it is quite offensive, but it’s one stupidly senseless joke after another, made even funnier after a few drinks celebrating Cinco de Mayo.