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Jeff Goldblum put his Hollywood actor life on hold to star alongside his new girlfriend in a Pittsburgh regional theater production of The Music Man. Co-directors Bradley and LaBrache tread a surprisingly elegant line between genuine documentary and outright self-parody improv in this deliciously deadpan comedy Written by
I have an idea--let's make a mockumentary and cut out all the funny stuff! BRILLIANT!
This was a huge misfire--and the outtakes on the DVD show that it could have easily been a lot better! Pittsburg is a mockumentary in the Christopher Guest mold--and that's not a compliment these days. Though Guest's early mocks, like "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show" were classics, his more recent forays into the form have been virtually laughless exercises. Guest's excuse for cutting out the more absurd funny stuff in his later films was that the material didn't fit the reality he'd created--in other words, he fell in love with mediocrity. Well, this Guest-wannabe falls into the latter-day Guestomentary category. The concept is mildly clever--what would happen if the singularly weird, very ethnic Jeff Goldblum was convinced to play the very whitebread lead in a community theater production of the happyface 50s musical, The Music Man? Well, the filmmakers take that promising concept and suck all the humor and life right out of it. There is simply NOTHING funny OR interesting here! The film wouldn't even be interesting if it were actually a true documentary! But--and here's the weird part--if you watch the deleted scenes on the DVD, you get to see all kinds of stuff that was actually kind of funny, and was purposely cut out! It's incredible! You listen to the directors' commentary during the deleted scenes and every time something funny happens they say they had to cut it out either because (1) it didn't fit the "tone" of the piece or (2) it didn't advance the story. I have news for them about the film as it was released: (1) the "tone" they achieved in the film was one of torpor, repetition, and boredom and (2) there is no story being advanced. The stuff they cut out wasn't brilliant--but it was at least SOMETHING. As it is, Pittsburg, the film, is as close to NOTHING as you can get.
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