July 7, 2010
Best Worst Movie (2010) ***
Directed by Michael Stephenson
Best Worst Movie (2010)- Surprisingly sweet, if a bit meandering, look at a modern cult classic. *** out of 5
Best Worst Movie does a lot of things right--too much in fact. If someone was to ask me what it's about, it would be difficult to choose what to mention as its primary focus. Despite its title, this is not ultimately a documentary about the 1992 film Troll 2. That movie could have been made thereby giving us a significant insight into (bad) movie making. We're presented with all the actors, the director and writer of the film, but very little time is dedicated to what the actual process of making Troll 2 was like.
This is not a movie about the midnight phenomenon of movies that are so bad they become enjoyable when surrounded by a group of like-minded fans. There's a twenty minute stretch dedicated to the hard core Troll 2 fans talking about what makes it truly the worst movie ever made, but then it abandons this exploration and it doesn't really do much to compare and contrast Troll 2 with other films like Manos Hands of Fate, Plan 9 from Outer Space and even The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
This is not a movie about a delusional Italian director. This is not a movie about the cast members as a whole. This is not a movie about a Utah dentist, though I think if I had to, I'd explain this as its primary identity. George Hardy, for the most part, kind of holds the film together, which makes sense considering that he's the sweetest, most sane individual of the group. His toothy smile, his infectious niceness and his genuinely good-natured bafflement over the fact that he's in a film that revered for its sincere awfulness allows us to view this phenomenon through his eyes. We join Hardy as he goes from screening to screening to the applause of midnight audiences, and then later, we start to see his elation begin to unravel as Hardy and others overestimate the appeal of the film. It's heartbreaking to see him at a question and answer session at a memorabilia convention in London, England with less than ten people in the audience.
Yet, Stephenson ultimately betrays and possibly even exploits Hardy's good nature when he takes a few missteps that almost single-handedly undermine the sweet, fun nature of this tongue-in-cheek documentary. He asks Hardy and another actor from the film to track down Margo Prey who played the mother and wife in Troll 2. She's such a sad woman who's so afraid of the world that she shut herself in with her elderly mother hoping in her own words to escape to a place where no one will ever find her again. One wonders whether Troll 2 might have had something to do with the pitiable woman she has become. There's no reason why Stephenson couldn't have cut her scenes out of the film altogether. Best Worst Movie is not trying to be comprehensive in any way whatsoever. It's trying to make the audience laugh and smile along with those who are enjoying this nostalgic trip back to a quirky part of their past. Stephenson should have spent more time making fun of the director since he truly deserves to be laughed at considering that he's a total jerk and left Margo in peace.
The moments with Margo along with a few others spotlighting some strange and sad cast members can be forgiven as mistakes especially considering how ninety percent of the film truly does capture the joy of the Troll 2 wave of success as truly the worst movie ever made. It doesn't give any comprehensive insights into anything, but it certainly captures some truths about what makes truly bad movies, even though these truths aren't explored with any depth. Over and over again, people say that one can't go out and try to make a bad movie. Troll 2 is truly awful because everyone involved took this film seriously, which made the sincere final product open to genuine criticism. If those involved in Troll 2 wink at the camera, even every once in a while, it would not have caught on the way that it did. Best Worst Movie never once gives us any indication that anyone was in on any kind of joke back in 1992.
Troll 2 may just be the best worst movie ever made. This documentary is (for the most part) sweet and fun, and it will undoubtedly make audiences laugh, even if the experience as a whole is a bit brainless and unfocused.