by Jef Burnham
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Crap Shoot was an enormous disappointment. What I thought was going to be a documentary about why Hollywood makes so many bad movies and how they could utilize existing scientific methods to improve the quality of their output turned out to be an unfunny pseudo-mockumentary about two guys trying to make a documentary about why Hollywood makes bad movies. Even though some of the interviews are genuine interviews with actual Hollywood folk, it’s never made clear exactly which parts of the film are authentic (meaning not staged or scripted).
Though Ken Close (the film’s writer/director/star/everything else) is an official member of Mensa, a society for individuals with high IQs, the comedy consists of fart jokes, penis jokes, the use of phrases such as “tuna taco,” and mocking Morgan Spurlock in a way that led me to believe that Close didn’t understand what the experiment in Super Size Me was about. There’s also an inexplicable tirade from Close about the Bush Administration that lasts about five minutes. Given that some of the film may not be staged, I’m not sure whether certain other aspects of the film were meant to be jokes or not, which leaves me with the disadvantage of not being able to comment on them.
Close is invariably awkward in every scene and in at least on instance, when he is conducting an interview, it cuts back to him to ask the questions, but it is obvious that he is being filmed at a separate time from the responses. But the most annoying thing about the film is that the screen is constantly littered with quotes (mostly from Napoleon Dynamite) and statistics, which is usually fine in a documentary except that here they are so long, come so often and leave so fast that it’s hard to pay attention to the movie and read them before they disappear. Plus, the onslaught of quotes during the interviews is incredibly inconsiderate and mocking of the genuine interviewees.
The one really funny part of the film follows Close as he attempts to gain admittance to a studio lot in order to be refunded the money he paid to see Showgirls. There used to be a game show called Beat the Geeks, on which the Movie Geek once described watching Showgirls as being “like falling into a barrel of breasts and coming out crying.” That’s the most accurate description of Showgirls I can think of. Being, myself, one of the unfortunate masses who sat through that Verhoeven-helmed filth, I was rooting for Close’s success in getting a refund from the producers. If he had, I think that would have been cause for a class-action suit on behalf of all those sullied by exposure to Showgirls.
Jef Burnham is a writer and film critic living in Chicago.
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