Everybody’s Famous [Iedereen Beroemd]
by Chris Wood
Flemish import works hard at entertaining, with plenty to recommend it.
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ean Vereecken, (played by Josse De Pauw), sits at his kitchen table, in Belgium, overlooking the breakfast he made for his wife and daughter, waiting for them to wake so he can surprise them with a song. When all are present, he plays the song, which is really just his voice humming into a tape recorder, and his daughter storms out, while his wife just rubs her temple and lowers her head. “Bon,” (good) Jean sarcastically states, as he goes to retrieve the tape.
Jean is a dreamer, who foresees fame and fortune with his 17-year-old daughter Marva, (played by Eva van der Gucht) as he wants her to be a pop singer, just like Belgium’s most famous pop star Debbie, who, according to the movie’s entertainment statistics, has sold more records than Michael Jackson, Madonna, and the Beatles combined!
Everybody’s Famous, (running time, 97 minutes) directed, written and co-produced by Dominique Deruddere, of Turnhout, Flanders, in Belgium, is not only a laugh out loud, wacky comedy, but is a touching story of a bumbling father that sees his daughter’s potential, and wants more than anything for her to succeed. That does not exclude kidnapping the famed Debbie, in a chance encounter after his car breaks down on a country road.
Deruddere, 44, is no stranger to writing and directing, her earliest work dating back to 1975, when she was only 18 years old. And with this movie, which debuted internationally in 2000, she received a Best Foreign Film nomination from the Academy Awards (Oscars). But how was Deruddere to know that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was going to come out that year too!
The hilarity starts when Debbie’s agent Michael, played by Victor Low, agrees to meet Jean in a parking garage to discuss terms for Debbie’s safe release. Jean gets into the car wearing an oversized Michael Jackson mask (portraying his long haired, excessive plastic surgery days), demanding Michael to listen to his song and give his opinion. Jean wants no money, but for his recorded humming to be turned into a song in one week.
Meanwhile, he and his accomplice, Willy van Outreve, played by Werner De Smedt, have Debbie held up in a cottage in the woods, and are able to watch her because the factory they worked at was shut down, making them unemployed, in addition to Willy’s wife going away to a conference for 3 weeks.
However, once Debbie puts on the waterworks about her poor dog at her flat who is starving, Willy, who is close to the young pop stars age, goes to retrieve the dog. He gets spotted, and now the news has a field day with the additional K-9 kidnapping.
The song gets completed, and now Jean tells Michael that he knows the perfect person to sing it. So again, he makes breakfast for his family, arms folded, smiling as the phone rings. “I think it’s for you,” he tells his daughter.
Now Marva gets her big break, but the problem is that she does not have the stereotypical physical beauty attributed to pop music stars, and when Michael sees this, is distraught. Furthermore, Marva’s singing is well below par when she is performing for adults, but she does have a beautiful voice, and just needs the right setting in order to bring it out.
However, Michael has discovered whom the man behind the Michael Jackson mask is, while trying to seduce Jean’s daughter, but still agrees to have her sing, plotting his own money and rating-making scheme on the side.
This is a silly movie, but you can’t help rooting for the underdog and hope everything comes together in the end. Even though it is subtitled, following the story and understanding the plot is not difficult. The acting is very good, and the two girls who having singing parts in the movie actually sing, and have exceptional voices. Deruddere did a fine job directing. It flowed and kept its simplicity, despite the comedy and surreal feeling it gave off. The funniness comes from Jean and Willy, who don’t have a criminal brain cell to divide between them, but the sincerity of a father doing whatever it takes to give his daughter her rightful chance, and win her respect at the same time, is always heartwarming. Everybody’s Famous is only in limited release, but if you get the opportunity, see this movie!
Chris Wood is a freelance writer, film lover and student living in The Big Apple.
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