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John A. Alonzo
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It's the end of the 70s. Hippies are assimilating, women are raising their consciousness, and men are becoming confused and ineffectual. Don't expect to be able to keep track of all the names or who's sleeping with who; the picture very skillfully conveys the hopeless muddle through which the many characters move as they try to Find Themselves. Written by
Molly Malloy <email@example.com>
Satire can be a delicate medium. It's very easy to simply go for the straight joke and bully one's way thru the material. At times, Serial does do this, and this, combined with an overall feel of being a TV movie, is what costs it two points on my rating. However, these are minor blemishes. The Marin scene was truly mad in those days. Take my word for it, I was there. And just because the characters are archetypes doesn't mean they shouldn't be recorded, for the amusement of future generations that might otherwise be tempted to go all out for personal growth and freedom.
Seen thru the eyes of the 'relatively normal' Harvey Holroyd, the scene in Marin is freewheeling and novel, the first few times around the track. After that, the consequences start lurching into sight and people's deeper selves start emerging, hurt, confused and unmoored, just as in life. You'd think that would make Serial funny for the first 45 minutes and from then on a drag. Not in the least, particularly due to the introduction of Skull, the madcap recruiter. This element permits the pace not only to avoid maudlin regrets, but to increase the pace and the zaniness, zapping targets in all directions with merry abandon.
A winner all the way and highly recommended for anyone who wants to see Hollywood put the wringer to itself.
Those who like this film might also like 'The Player' and 'Network', which are more serious takes on trenchant satire of the New Age generations.
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