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HECKLER is a comedic feature documentary exploring the increasingly critical world we live in. After starring in a film that was critically bashed, Jamie Kennedy takes on hecklers and critics and ask some interesting questions of people such as George Lucas, Bill Maher, Mike Ditka, Rob Zombie, Howie Mandel and many more. This fast moving, hilarious documentary pulls no punches as you see an uncensored look at just how nasty and mean the fight is between those in the spotlight and those in the dark. Written by
All You Need Is Hate
Written by Stewart Henderson, Emma Pollock, Paul Savage and Alun Woodward
Performed by The Delgados
Published by Chrysalis Songs (BMI)
Courtesy of Mantra/The Beggars Group See more »
It's a little weird and very ironic - to review Heckler, a documentary that speaks out specifically on film criticism. Despite the title and promotional materials suggesting that it focuses on those who heckle stand up comedians, the film has a change of heart half way through, switching its efforts over to berating film critics. Therein lies one of the bigger problems with Heckler: the two topics don't have much to do with one another, despite Jamie Kennedy's, the star of the film, attempts at correlating them. Besides this major flaw, Heckler is an entertaining film. Personally, I disagree with nearly every point of view featured within Heckler, but the film held my interest, containing what must be hundreds of different interviews with celebrities.
The first half of Heckler focuses primarily on audience members at stand-up comedy shows who take it upon themselves to interrupt the performance, insult the comedian, or occasionally even try and steal the spotlight by finishing the jokes. While this may not seem like a big issue to most, the film demonstrates how hecklers have become an increasingly large problem for stand up comedians. Interviews with a myriad of celebrity comedians, including David Cross, Bill Maher and Tom Green among others, show the frustrations, self-doubt and career repercussions comedians face because of unruly patrons. Heckler also documents some of the more extreme cases as well, including an assault on a stand-up by an offended viewer, a musician who smashes his guitar over an unruly mans head, and the infamous Michael Richards incident. This portion of Heckler does a good job of shedding light on an issue most people have never given a second-thought to.
This is soon abandoned in favor of bashing film critics, especially, but not limited to, the internet kind. There are a few legitimate points made about criticism, particularly how in the "internet" age, more attention is focused on deriding and humiliating the actors/directors who created the film, then critiquing the film itself. While this does show a gradual decrease in the quality of film criticism over the years, it's still very difficult to sympathize with the various film directors interviewed within the film, who all seem to take film criticisms, and the small jabs that come with many of them, way too far. Anyone working within the entertainment business has to have thick skin, it comes with the job. One of these featured directors is Paul Chilsen, who supposedly dropped out of film-making because his first feature got poor reviews. This isn't the fault of the critics; he simply wasn't cut out for the business.
However, no performer featured in Heckler comes across as infantile and whiny as the star of the film himself, Jamie Kennedy. It's a wonder the man ever made it through high school, as it is frequently demonstrated throughout the film that he is unable to take the slightest criticisms of his work. When confronting two teenage hecklers, Kennedy doesn't seem to care about the fact that his show was disrupted; his only concern seems to be that they didn't find it funny, as he begins to say "What do you know about comedy? Who are you to decide what's funny". They're your audience, Jamie. They paid money to see your show, and while they don't have a right to ruin it for others, they have every right to decide whether it's funny or not. If you don't feel like people should judge your work, perhaps you shouldn't be performing it for them.
Kennedy also begins meeting with critics who have given his last feature film, Son of the Mask, a bad review. It becomes more apparent that Kennedy just can't accept the fact that people dislike it or other films of his. He blames others for his own failures as an actor/writer. It's not just the insulting reviews that Kennedy has a problem with: he has a problem with any review that speaks negatively of the film. In Kennedy's dream world, everyone would be forced to enjoy every single piece of art out there, for fear of upsetting the artists. Kennedy takes offense to Richard Roeper's review stating he wanted to walk out of Son of the Mask. The ensuing confrontation is hilarious, as Kennedy attempts to change Roeper's mind by saying in all seriousness that the movie was trying to push new boundaries...by having a baby with super powers who could throw people. In another scene, Kennedy confronts a critic, Peter Grumbine, who seems to find Jamie's overreaction rather funny. At the end of the exchange, Jamie actually calls Grumbine evil, putting someone who dislikes his film among the ranks of Hitler, Charles Manson and Osama Bin Laden. Even if you still have the slightest doubt after watching the movie that Kennedy is overreacting, the deleted scenes should clear everything up: Kennedy freaks out on a friend who merely said one of his comedy bits didn't work.
Perhaps the most alarming thing is many of the director's insistence that no one has the right to judge their work, that anyone who speaks negatively of their work misunderstands it. It shows a complete lack of consideration for the audience, and makes one wonder why these self-proclaimed masters of film even bother showing their work to audiences if they don't care about the reaction. The one exception is Uwe Boll, possibly the most hated man in the film-making business. While he does have an organized boxing bout with critics in the movie, letting off a bit of steam, he never once speaks out against film criticism. Perhaps this is why someone like Boll is increasingly getting better (his two latest movies have had some support) while people like Jamie Kennedy, Joel Schumacher and Eli Roth are continuously getting worse and worse. In the end, it's not film criticism that's destroying the film business, but Kennedy's (and others) inability to learn from the criticism.
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