October 6, 2009
Guns on the Clackamas: A Documentary
Reviewer: Dylan de Thomas
Rating (out of 5): **
Famed, multiple-Academy Award-nominated animator Bill Plympton made his second live-action film, Guns on the Clackamas, during the early-90's boom of mock documentaries -- which included such notable features as Bob Roberts, Fear of a Black Hat and Forgotten Silver. The latter, Peter Jackson's faux-doc about a long-lost New Zealand filmmaker, a good, and superior, reference point for Plympton's movie which focuses on Holton P. Jeffers Jr., a famed Western director making a cursed movie, the titular "Guns on the Clackamas."
Loosely inspired by Jean Harlow's death during the production of Saratoga, Plympton's movie focuses on Jeffers' latest opus, which features so many mishaps it makes Saratoga's making a breeze in comparison. The body count rises as the production unravels, making no difference to the slavering critics who impart meaning to the smallest mistakes and missteps of even the most wretched of Jeffers' Western efforts.
Guns is chock-full of Hollywood in-jokes, which Plympton details in the enjoyable commentary track. Unfortunately, the film itself is not all that funny. The deft touch he has as an animator is entirely not in evidence here, with obvious jokes falling flat right and left, while stilted acting and awkward filmmaking evident in every scene.
For Plympton and Western mockumentary completists only.
Posted by cphillips at October 6, 2009 1:14 PM