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Reviews & Ratings for
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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Bad cinema done with a smile

Author: ( from fairview, nj
4 December 2001

THE INDEPENDENT (2001) ** Jerry Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Max Perlich (Cameos: Anne Meara, Ron Howard, Roger Corman, Peter Bogdanovich, John Lydon, Ben Stiller, Andy Dick, Fred Dryer, Jonathan Katz, Fred Williamson, Karen Black, Nick Cassavetes) (Dir: Stephen Kessler)

Jerry Stiller has made a fine career for himself as a top-notch character actor and the triumphs of his long-standing marriage with comedy partner Anne Meara. But perhaps it is the past decade particularly for his stint as the bellicose Frank Costanza, the brow-beating, bellowing paterfamilias of Jason Alexander's angry George on "Seinfeld" is what he'll be remembered for after all these years ago. Now he's the lead in this quasi-mockumentary a la "This Is Spinal Tap" meets "The Player" by way of "Ed Wood."

Morty Fineman (Stiller), a truly independent filmmaker of questionable taste and lack of skills and talent, is the focus of a documentary film crew shooting the downward spiral of his illustrious career of low, low budget exploitation films the likes of Roger Corman and John Waters but without the knowing wink at the audience. Fineman's downfall is his blind ambition as an artiste whose long-suffering daughter and wind beneath his winds Paloma (Garofalo) has to endure the latest brinks of bankruptcy that has his bank offering to buy out his filmography not for its artistic merit but literally by the pound of celluloid he's burned.

Along for the ride is his protégé and gopher Ivan (the gifted character actor Perlich) who desperately attempts a comeback for Morty by investigating every film festival to showcase his ouevre. Naturally not one is interested save for Chaparral, Nevada whose town's main point of business is prostitution. To add insult to injury Fineman winds up working his new offices of his trade outside a dingy motel.

Stiller acquits himself nicely as the clueless yet empassioned director of dreck whose specialty is message films of his own political bent via busty babes scantily clad with semi-automatic weaponary touted between their ample cleavage. What works for the film on the whole is the tongue-in-cheek sendup of the industry with its accurate depictions of what bad films look like from shoddy stock footage and badly acted scenes to its so-scary -they -seem -real take-offs of trailers to 1960s and 70s junk films. The use of real-life filmmakers like Howard and Bogdanovich tries to lend a hand to its wink-wink/nudge-nudge insider take/satire send-up by giving it an air of authenticity but by the last third the one-joke gimmick runs out of gas and feels flat.

For those who love awful movies and wonder who the heck makes this crap then they have a true hero in Morty Fineman, a man ahead of his times .whenever that was.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Satire Worth Seeing

Author: Ralph Hummel ( from Huntington, New York
4 July 2003

This sleeper has been overlooked. It is frequently funny with many illustrations of real wit. If you're a fan of indie-flicks, then there's much to enjoy here, not least of which are unexpected cameos by industry names.

Plus, despite what others have said, there is a narrative based on the characters' familial relations. That, and quality acting from the leads (especially Jerry Stiller, who'll surprise you with his convincing portrayal) make this satire well-worth watching.

I found this on cable and learned it's not been released on DVD. Let's start lobbying for that!

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely hilarious

Author: dillrod from Austin, TX
14 March 2000

I saw this at SXSW this year. Absolutely hilarious. Jerry Stiller is possibly at his finest hour playing the lead role in this film. The writing is terrific as is the direction. Garafalo is good, but clearly Jerry Stiller is the laugh-machine here. This could be the Something About Mary of this year, but without as much gross humor (not that I don't like gross humor). Plenty of wacky cameos by: Andy Dick, Ben Stiller, the entire cast of the Ben Stiller Show, Ron Howard, Roger Corman, and Larry Hankin.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Ginger Lynn is my mayor

Author: edgewordwise from United States
18 January 2006

For the recently-married reviewer who missed the last 20 minutes: that was my 15 seconds of fame as an extra at the "film festival", dammit! The fictional town of "Chapparal, Nevada" is in fact Colfax, California. The theater interior is that of the old-school Colfax Theater. Never before has the subject of venereal disease been dealt with so classily on the silver screen, army stock or not. Jerry Stiller is a mensch and that Ginger Lynn as the Mayor, well... I don't think dialogue was a strong point in her previous film career, know what i mean? Don't miss this one, especially if you like quirky faux-documentary comedies. Really.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Dull? Pointless? Did you see the same film as I did!?

Author: Comsat Angel from Manchester, England
4 March 2003

A comedy that consistently amuses, to the point of being laugh-out loud funny - the hilarious inserts of Monty's oeuvre are some of the high-points: The Foxy Chocolate Robot, anyone? Or the Simplex Complex? Or, my fave, the Eco-Angels? Plus, everything comes together for a happy ending. Result! Stick around for the end credits; someone carried out a labour of love in creating 437 film titles for Monty's career.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Incredibly Sublime and Hilarious

Author: seamovieman from United States
13 February 2006

This film is hilarious, sublime and simply outstanding - a great example of how a very funny film can be made on a low budget. The adventures of Jerry Stiller's character, Morty, are recorded in this "Mocumentary" with nothing but the absolute best of results. Jerry is in almost every frame and he carries the film in a Herculean effort. Getting less respect than Rodney Dangerfield could have ever described, Morty carries on in his own deluded yet unwavering way. Just watching Morty's morning routine was worth the price of the ticket alone. The previous reviewer compared this to a lame SNL sketch - my advice is to watch it again-sober-and watch for the nuances of Stiller's performance (including the unbelievable deadpan reaction he gives to hearing a brutal criticism of his work) instead of the in-your-face gross-out "humor" that passes for amusement in the mainstream farce released by Hollywood over the past 20 years. Super cameos by a wealth of indie and some not-so-indie directors are fabulous. Great stuff.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Woody Allen's HOLLYWOOD ENDING pales by comparison...

Author: klgretrt
16 February 2003

First came Minnelli's THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, then Blake Edward's caustic S.O.B., ...but it took another decade before a great comedic film-maker succeeded on his compelling "take" on Hollywood: Steven Kessler's THE INDEPENDENT!

Although the film's been mired in some degree of legal uncertainty, someday-- as a bar of Ivory Soap rises to the surface, (no matter where you put it!), this riotous look at low-budget, sub-Corman/ par Troma film-making will make it to cable and DVD!

You'll laugh so much..., well, don't forget to pick up the Depends after you leave Blockbuster!

I was lucky enough to see it at a festival screening, and I hope you can, someday, see it, too.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Funny, but room for improvement.

Author: Blueghost from The San Francisco Bay Area
2 February 2004

The only criticism I'd make about this film is that the documentary angle wasn't played up to its entirety. There're shots in the film that just don't gybe with documentary film making. An example are some of the lockdown shots, where edited footage of two people having a conversation (a conversation that is supposed captured by a single camera) is shown. It just doesn't wash. And the film suffers because of it. Documentary crews either setup interviews or follow their subjects around. The intercut sequences harken too much to traditional film making. Documentaries have long takes of jittery or mildly shaken hand held shots. Documentaries do not contain lockdown car shots, dolly shots, or other complicated camera moves. It just doesn't happen: It's not what documentary film making is all about. And yet "The Independent" has all of these things.

If the actors had just been allowed to act in front of the camera, possibly ad lib in a long master, then this film would've been much more than what it ultimately became, and would've achieved its goal with sterling aplomb. As it is now it's an attempt at making a mocumentary. Fairly succesful, good, funny, but ultimately a few points shy of a comic masterpiece.

Otherwise it's actually a funny film. Anybody who's worked on any kind of independent production will tell you that this film hits pretty close to home. Artistic license is taken with over the top situations and performances, but the film manages to capture the general feel of how the indy-film maker works, and does so in a comic vein. Stiller plays the exploitation film maker who denies his more base nature, stating that he's an artiste commenting on society, and not a director of hack T&A/slasher/blacksploitation/biker or whatever exploitation genre that he's actually known for.

If you enjoyed "This is Spinal Tap," "Jackie Brown," or "Drop Dead Gorgeous," then you'll warm to this film. Take note of the rating; it's not a comedy for kids.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

One of the funniest movies I've ever seen

Author: mstivers-2 from Sacramento, CA
29 April 2002

I've seen a number of movies like this with a good satirical premise but they rarely deliver. This one does. It not only has a lot of very funny movie parodies but also good performances by Jerry Stiller and Janeane Garofalo. There's even a story line that holds up all the way through. There are plenty of jokes you'll want to repeat to your friends later.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Fun Movie

Author: Tanya Washburn from Boston, MA
18 February 2002

I just came from the 27th Boston Science Fiction Movie Marathon, and this move closed the show. It was wonderful and a lot of fun! Excellent performances, and a large number of cameos, as well. The film clips were hysterical (and stay for the end credits!)


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