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My Big Fat Independent Movie   (released 10/27/2005)
By Ali Imran Zaidi

I love a good spoof. Spoofs are easy entertainment – mostly for the same reason we find ourselves secretly enjoying sequels and remakes of films – they build on a connection we already have with existing characters, stories, actors. Some spoofs are so well-crafted they can stand on their own two feet even if you don’t know much about what they’re spoofing. Others just crash and burn unless you really get what they’re digging at. And then there are yet others that just plain crash and burn. Unfortunately, My Big Fat Independent Movie is one of the latter two, leaning more towards the last.

The premise for this film… well there is sort of an encapsulating plot involving a botched heist, but that’s mostly just a vehicle to show a collage of scenes borrowed from various films mostly released during the 1990s (though the timeline varies). From Reservoir Dogs to Pulp Fiction; from Mulholland Drive to Secretary; from El Mariachi to Amelie; from Swingers to Pi; from The Good Girl to Memento; from Run Lola Run to Time Code and so on; there’s nothing spared from the consistently cynical and sarcastic commentary spoken through the characters in the film. A lot of these comments are mildly amusing, and most of them bring up valid points regarding the overuse of metaphors, techniques and other clichés in the films it skewers. However, it seems misplaced for one big reason – the filmmakers behind this film chose to set it in the 90s and attack the very films that actually made such techniques and methods so pop-famous that pop-films and filmmakers copied them, thus making them cliché and tired. So in a way, and this might be a bit of a stretch but hopefully you get my point, it’s sort of like saying Shakespeare is soooo cliché, with his stories of star-crossed lovers. It’s just a little misplaced, and just a little too easy and uninspired. Mostly, it’s immature writing.

I’m a bit of a film geek. I watch a lot of films, independent or otherwise. I go to the DMAC in downtown Orlando. I subscribe to the pay channels on cable mostly just so I can have IFC and Sundance. I think I’ve pretty much seen every film that Big Fat Movie spoofs. I got all the jokes, the sly cross-references, the inside jokes, the dependent gags. I snickered at my fair share of them. But I still couldn’t find a place in my heart for this film. I really wanted to like it, I really did. Mostly because of the involvement of producer and co-writer Chris Gore – who wrote the definitive book on film festivals “The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide” one of my favorite industry tomes. Even though this film was directed by Philip Zlotorynski, a largely unknown filmmaker, the writing, the personality, the production and the general promotion machine behind this film is all Chris Gore. It’s his film. For those of you who may not be in the know, Chris Gore, the producer and co-writer of My Big Fat Independent Movie, is an Independent Film Channel (IFC) television personality, game-show host, self-proclaimed film geek, film festival expert, and all-around film personality. He’s been around the indie-film circuits for quite some time – not so much because he’s much of a prolific filmmaker (because he’s not), but mostly because he just seems to be everywhere, at every festival and at every indie film event, starting with the launch of his Web site many moons ago. Call him the Paris Hilton of the indie film world. When I heard Gore was making a film himself, I had high hopes. With his incredibly high level of attendance to film festivals around the nation and the world, I figured he’s seen such an enormous variety of films that his work would have to be pretty well put together. Unfortunately I think all that film-watching has just left him cynical towards the very industry that drives him.

So what could have made Big Fat Movie a more enjoyable film? I never thought I’d bring this movie up in a review of an independent film, but think of something equally silly-fun like Not Another Teen Movie. Here’s a movie that not only pokes fun at the genre of teen movies throughout the years, but using those films, it constructs a film that actually is a ‘teen movie’ in and of itself. So it becomes safe to say that if you like teen movies, you will enjoy Not Another Teen Movie. Big Fat Movie doesn’t really work this way. It pokes plenty of fun at independent films, but it isn’t really much of a film in and of itself, and just because you like independent films doesn’t at all mean you’ll enjoy this film. I think Gore has missed the mark with his audience.

So who should go see this film? Well if you’re into film, even though it’s a little bit of a chore, it may be worth seeing it just for the fun of picking out the spoofs, cross-references and hidden gags – to test your own memory and film knowledge. If you’re not much of a film buff, or haven’t seen that many independent films, definitely avoid this one – you will just be bored to tears and will take it out on your neighbor. And that just wouldn't be funny either.

Ali Imran Zaidi is a filmmaker, writer and web developer - shooting, banging on keyboards, and making web sites in the Orlando area.

My Big Fat Independent Movie is playing at the DMAC Orlando from October 27 - 30, 2005.

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