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Twisted: A Balloonamentary (2007)

A flying octopus. A Trojan horse. Two 100-foot-tall soccer players. All made out of balloons. These are just some of the masterful creations you will see as "TWISTED: A Balloonamentary" ... See full summary »
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Sheree Brown-Rosner ...
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Don Caldwell ...
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Laura Dakin ...
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David Grist ...
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John Holmes ...
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Michele Rothstein ...
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A flying octopus. A Trojan horse. Two 100-foot-tall soccer players. All made out of balloons. These are just some of the masterful creations you will see as "TWISTED: A Balloonamentary" takes you right into the heart of Twist and Shout, one of the world's premier balloon twisting conventions. Exploring how eight balloon twisters' lives are dramatically changed by a little piece of latex, this hilarious and heartwarming documentary is about passion, salvation, love, death, race, religion, and a whole lot of balloons. With animation narrated by JON STEWART, "TWISTED: A Balloonamentary" is a story about people who discover that once you can make a balloon dog, you can do anything. Written by Sara Taksler and Naomi Greenfield

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Once you can make a balloon dog, you can do anything.

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9 March 2007 (USA)  »

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$150,000 (estimated)
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Twisted is a misseded opportunity
21 December 2015 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

As a regular documentary, I would describe "Twisted" in one word: cutesy. But advertised as "hilarious", "quirky", "wide grinning and thoroughly winning" (all written on the DVD box), I have to call foul on some deceptive marketing.

Twisted is a simple peek into the lives of 8 people who attend a balloon twisting convention. The documentary focuses on their reasons for choosing this odd profession and how it helps them reach their life goals. That's basically all there is to it, so if you're looking for any clever message, dramatic rivalry, insane or otherwise bizarre people, laugh out loud moments, big surprises, or the quintessential "money shot" that validates your viewing investment beyond a cursory education, you won't find that here.

To illustrate my point, I'll compare "Twisted" to two other documentaries in a similar vein: "King of Kong" (about a Donkey Kong video game competition) and "Ambassadors of Hollywood" (about the people who dress up as movie characters and strut Hollywood Boulevard for a living). All 3 documentaries center around some oddball hobby or profession. All 3 documentaries attempt to draw us into a seemingly silly profession by giving us insight into the people who choose it. But I feel like "Twisted" missed some great opportunities to give us some drama and fun like the other two.

In "King of Kong" the angle is that there is a bitter rivalry between two contestants, the "good guy" who is shown to be sweet and gentle vs. the "bad guy" who is shown to be a douchebag. Already the stage is set for a thrilling story, even though we're just watching adults play video games. Similarly in "Ambassadors of Hollywood" there are many tense conflicts such as the psychotic Batman character who doesn't want anyone setting foot on his turf, or the antagonism between the police chief and these "vagrants" on Hollywood Blvd. By dramatizing a situation, a good documentary pulls us in even if we don't find the subject matter itself interesting.

But "Twisted" stays cutesy and straightforward, no conflicts, no insanity, nothing but a bunch of people having a good time. There were one or two opportunities where the documentary could've really milked it for some good natured fun, such as the fact that a "gospel balloon twisting" expo was right across the hall from an "adult (X rated) balloon twisting" expo. There could have been some hilarious rivalry between the two camps, but instead it's just left at what I told you. No juicy battles between good and evil.

OK, you're saying, you don't need drama.You just want to be impressed by the flying octopus, Trojan horse and 100ft soccer players made out of balloons as advertised on the DVD box. Therein lies another deception. These marvelous creations did not occur at the convention being shown. They happened in prior years in other countries, and this documentary mentions them only in passing with some shots of the finished products. We don't really see anyone working on them, much less any of the 8 characters who are the focus of this documentary.

OK, you say, well as long as we get to see some impressive fast-paced balloon making, that's good enough. Another missed opportunity there. Yes, we do see some impressive creations, but for the most part they aren't anything you wouldn't expect at a birthday party. And you never get to see anything from start to finish, only clips of the process. Pretty soon you realize this isn't so much about the art of balloon making as it is about people who make balloon art.

And with that as the case, if the characters themselves aren't quirky enough to hold your attention, and if there is no drama to keep things interesting, this becomes a somewhat uneventful ride.

If you are genuinely interested in balloon twisting, then this might be a nice documentary to watch for the heck of it. But if you are looking for a quirky, hilarious, wide grinning experience as this is marketed, you might be better off with the other two docs I mentioned, "King of Kong" and "Ambassadors of Hollywood". I'll add one more genuinely hilarious and quirky documentary "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" which is about, you guessed it, a not-so-famous metal band from the 80s which attempts to stage a comeback tour, with surprising results.


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