— by SEAN GERSKI —
Perhaps more than any other type of movie, mockumentaries can best be graded in one of two ways: Is it funny or is it painful to sit through?
As fans of the genre know, all movies by the Christopher Guest troupe fall safely in the first category. Outside of those movies, however, is where things get dicey. If you have ever sat through a feature-length mockumentary that just isn’t funny, you know true pain at the movies.
Luckily, Eric Amadio’s new film, “Stuntmen,” falls in the first category as an amusing movie overall with a good number of laugh-out-loud moments.
As my friend, with whom I watched it, said, “It was a pleasant surprise.”
Having said that, “Stuntmen” does start off sort of on iffy ground for the first few minutes or so, but it soon finds its footing.
The movie is a mockumentary about two guys who are up for the much-coveted title of Stuntman of the Year (at least in this movie’s universe). And, predictably, the two rivals hate each other.
On the surface, the movie is about the two stuntmen — Eligh (played by Marc Blucas) and Tank (played by (Ross Patterson) — but, as it happens, the two title characters end up being the least interesting characters in the movie.
Faring better is the documentarian, Steve, who is played by Chris Tarantino.
Before setting off to interview the stuntmen for his documentary, Steve decides it is a good idea to take up a fake accent — in order to give his documentary “more credibility.”
His use of the accent of indeterminate origin leads to one of the movie’s funnier moments. When one of the guys he is interviewing asks, “What kind of accent is that?,” the interviewer stumbles a little before responding, “Well … it’s a foreign one.”
Outside of those three characters, the movie is lined with recognizable faces.
Ray Wise (“Twin Peaks”) does solid work as a guy who was born without a sense of humor. As a coping device, he has developed a fake laugh (and his fake laugh is good for several real ones).
Brandon Routh (“Superman Returns”) plays the agent of one of the stuntmen and Zachari Levi (“Chuck”) and Joel Moore (“Grandma’s Boy) play the agents of the other stuntman. The agents have amusing scenes alone and then, near the end of the movie, together.
In my opinion, more scenes from the three agents — and less from the two stuntmen — would have been benefitted the movie.
Dominque Swain (“Lolita”), Timm Sharp (“Undeclared”) and Carly Pope (“Popular”) do well in limited roles.
Overall, “Stuntmen” is an amusing 90 minutes. Is it as good as the Christopher Guest mockumentaries? No, but that is an extremely high yardstick for any mockumentary to measure up to.
Is it amusing and worth your time? Yes. Go ahead and take a chance on it. As any stuntman will tell you, life isn’t worth living if you don’t take a risk or two.
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