The Warwick family are unknowingly being filmed for a new reality show. Problem is, they're boring. So the producer, Mickey Wagner, must add conflict and drama. Their lives begin to unravel with shocking consequences.
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Shooting the Warwicks is a darkly comedic satire about reality TV producer Mickey Wagner and his amoral attempt to re-invent the genre. Mickey's revolutionary idea is to pick an average family and put them under all-encompassing surveillance...without their knowledge. Unfortunately, Mickey soon realizes that the family is boring. In a desperate attempt to salvage the show, Mickey begins to interfere by injecting conflict to create drama. As the show gets better, the family starts to disintegrate. Mickey rationalizes that all will be OK in the end, for once the episodes begin airing, fame will heal all wounds. Written by
TV series edited into twisted and sick social commentary
I'm actually quite shocked that this film didn't make more of a splash. It's been a year since it ran a limited theatrical run and didn't even get reviewed that much outside of a fairly positive mention on NPR, which I can say I'm glad I heard.
I don't usually waste time going over synopses in reviews, but as of today there's so little said about the film that I will. The premise I found to be absolutely delightful in a dark and morbid way similar to NIGHTCRAWLER in which unscrupulous characters in the TV industry go about ruining the lives of regular people in order to make money. Here, we see director Adam Rifkin (who is easily the best thing about the movie) as a sleazy reality show producer who successfully pitches a show about a family chosen completely at random, with hidden cameras installed in the family's house while they are on a surprise vacation. The problem is there's just not enough family drama to make for good TV and time is running out. Things become much more fun (and twisted) when several actors are hired to enter the family's life, which shows how delicate Normalcy can be and how easily it can be completely ripped apart.
Mainly I'd call myself a fan of this film's potential. It could have gone from good to great, had it improved on three major areas. These are:
1) Acting. A few of the performances feel quite amateurish and inconsistent though they do certainly improve as the film goes along. Remember you're seeing the actors' season's worth of professional growth in 90 minutes. While things come together eventually, the acting certainly cuts down on the film's edge by detracting from the "reality" it's making a commentary on. Watch for some really awkward dialog with the actors playing the unsuspecting family saying things like "what a great vacation that was!" right after returning to their home after a vacation.
2) Realism. Similarly, the film fails to stay true to its own logic and just provides too many head-scratching moments to take seriously. The whole premise of the film is based on how a reality show can overlook lawsuits by getting ratings and endorsements, but no show can air on TV depicting its own violation of several laws, especially actors knowingly contributing to the delinquency of a minor and minor consumption of alcohol. Also, how did the show's crew "hack" into all those phones, into the father's workplace computer, and place cameras in not just his workplace but the local high school and police station? Was EVERYBODY in on it?
3) Visual Effects. There's a lot of great effects (such as a hilariously over-the-top scene later in the film in which an animal is killed) here and there, but most of the more violent action in the film's final act relies on post-production CGI blood which just doesn't carry the weight it needs to (especially when added to "found" footage) and distracts from the shocks.
However, by no means would I call this an ineffective film. It's quite engrossing and was difficult to step away from. It even left me pretty rattled after completing it and I found myself talking a thinking about the movie a lot over the following weeks. SHOOTING THE WARWICKS comes off as exactly the low budget film that it is, yes, but certainly overcomes its limits by providing some solid shocks and thrills aided immensely by its intriguing premise. It's the R-Rated, morally bankrupt cousin of THE TRUMAN SHOW.
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