Drake Doremus' 'Douchebag' at Sundance

OC stage prodigy-turned-filmmaker Drake Doremus brings his 'very personal' movie to Park City, Utah

He says Douchebag is more in the spirit of The Shirt than Spooner was. Starring Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo, SLC Punk!), who attended Tustin schools from first grade through high-school graduation, Spooner was about a guy who had no interest in growing up until love came along. It was based on a story idea, Doremus says, while the darker Douchebag “is way more personal.”

“We use the name of my fifth-grade girlfriend, my best friend is one of the stars, and my film editor from Spooner is the other,” he says.

“It’s extremely personal,” Jones concurs. “And I think working with you, there’s an escape there. It’s not all about the camera. With so many movies, you can feel the camera, you can feel the crew. I hope that comes through.”

John Gilhooley
John Gilhooley

Maybe it’s the warm English beer talking, but the usually optimistic Doremus is growing increasingly somber.

“I know some people are going to hate it,” he says of Douchebag. “But if you add up the amount of people who will see it at Sundance, more people will have eventually seen it than any of my other films. Not enough people saw Spooner to hate it.”

“But the name is Douchebag,” Jones offers, trying to keep his friend’s spirits up.

“People will find it.”

They agree the name was a stroke of genius, courtesy of Schwartz. After some initial doubts, the title grew on everyone, until all agreed the picture could be called nothing else.

“It has some very sweet moments,” Doremus says, as if trying to convince himself.

“It has a lot of humanity in it,” Jones agrees, “and I think people will get it.”

Doremus is already jittery about walking into the Sundance buzz saw, and now the PR people there are playing up the scheduled attendance of Mary Barger—the real one, with whom Doremus reconnected and who is flying in for the premiere.

“I’ll be nervous Friday night,” Doremus says. “It’ll be the first time anyone has seen it. The LA Times will be there. It’s so nerve-wracking. It’s not like Slamdance, where you’re showing the film to 100 people. This is the biggest stage for movies in the world besides Cannes.”

He starts fretting about all those seats Douchebag will have to try to fill in Park City and Salt Lake City—3,445 at six showings, not counting the press-only screening.

The beer is not working.


BING BAR. PARK CITY, UTAH. Friday, JAN. 22, 7 P.M.
Snow flurries have fallen all day on this former mining town. It’s pretty to look at—from inside a toasty room. Thankfully for sun-spoiled Southern Californians, the Absolut Douchebag Party—in deference to the official beverage sponsor, of course—is indoors.

For the invite-only slurp fest, the Main Street watering hole’s front doors are locked, and entry is only possible through a door marked “Exit” once you clear a large bouncer with a guest list in his mitts at the top of the steps.

Inside, the Bing is packed—and oozing with schmooze-itude. The 2010 incarnation of Twiggy is telling a slightly sneering Jason Schwartzman look-alike how she’s known Doremus for years and years.

The director of the hour holds court in the next room alongside Jones, Dickler, Stidham, Schwartz, co-producer Marius Markevicius and actress Amy Ferguson, who has a supporting role in the film. Decked out in their Sundance best, Team Douchebag cracks up as photographers snap them against a festival backdrop.

Beaming with pride between the camera lenses is Jones’ father, Wellington Stroud Jones.

The younger Jones leans over and says, “Time to go, Dad.”


The temporary, ascending rows of theater seats quickly fill up. If it’s not a full house, it’s pretty darn close. After a brief welcome from Doremus, the film begins. It’s funny and better-paced than Spooner, although that could also be because of the things coming out of the titular character’s mouth. You’re on the edge of your seat wondering what dickish thing Dickler will say next.

The end credits produce hearty cheers and applause, although film critics and distributors in the room are sitting on their hands like poker players concealing their tells.

The most boisterous howls and clapping come moments later when Doremus reveals Barger is in the crowd, which by now knows she is central to the movie, even though she never appears onscreen.

Then it’s complete silence.

“Mary?” Doremus asks sheepishly. “Is she still here? Uh-oh . . .”

“WOO-HOO!” comes a yell from the back of the room, prompting another audience outburst.

A young woman in the crowd suggests Doremus marry the real Barger to help with the film’s marketing.

All questions and comments are positive. “I loved this movie so much,” says another woman. “Now I have to see Spooner.”

Schwartz jokes Spooner is now showing as a double feature with Avatar. Actually, it’s to be distributed on DVD and pay-per-view, although a Douchebag-Spooner package deal is also being floated to potential buyers.

Doremus is asked how he found his amazing lead actors, who seem so real onscreen.

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