Crap Shoot: The Documentary

Crap Shoot: The Documentary is a low budget comical look at the movie industry which bemoans the lack of good movies being produced in Hollywood today. Writer, director Ken Close and his pal Jim Horton travel to Hollywood in search of answers and interview a strange mixture of people on the fringes of the industry to try and find out what makes a good movie and why the big studios don´t produce many of them.

There are a number of serious points here and Close does a good job through the interviews and narration of highlighting the main faults at play in Hollywood today though none of them are a huge revelation. We hear that success is more about contacts than talent, that money hungry corporate whores remake the same films over and over because they can prove those types of films made money in the past, that writing is undervalued and most screenplays end up on mountainous slush piles but that the readers judging these screenplays may not be qualified to do so. Ultimately the pressure to make guaranteed money and the desire to hit as broad a demographic as possible leads to remakes and sequels and a catastrophic lack of originality.

Jim Horton in Crap Shoot: The Documentary

While there is a serious side to the film it often spills over into mockumentary territory as Close and his pals try to play for laughs with limited success. The central duo is likeable enough, Jim Horton especially has some charisma, but the gags themselves are poorly set-up, often accompanied by silly sound effects and come off feeling amateurish and slightly lame.

Close seems interested in the idea that you could create a formula for a quality movie script and while many of his interviewees talk about the importance of a good story there is no explanation of what they consider a good story to be and you suspect this often just comes down to personal taste. In any case the documentary doesn´t really reach any conclusions and leans more towards comedy as it progresses.

There are some interesting nuggets of information in the interviews, I especially liked the story about a bunch of readers being shown the Casablanca script without the title and rejecting it. I was less enthralled with the tale of Sandra Bullock wanting a can of diet coke.

Despite the flaws this is gentle and mildly diverting stuff and the starring duo work well together. There are some important points in here which could have been built into a decent criticism of the state of the industry but were somewhat passed over in favour of attempted comedy and that´s a shame. I suspect most people would find Crap Shoot a bit on the dull side and it doesn´t really have enough depth to be useful for serious independent film makers or people interested in the central question but it does have an endearing sense of fun and it´s certainly different.

Reviewed by Simon Hill

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