This weekend, get your butts to the Edwards University theater to check out GREAT WORLD OF SOUND.
I had the chance to see this earlier in the year at the L.A. Film Fest. Pardon the self-plagiarism, but what I said at the time bears repeating:
The success of Borat: Long-Ass "Funny" Subtitle I Get Really Tired Of Seeing Written Out In Full By Other Critics really seems to be inspiring people to do their own hybrid-reality movies -- as mentioned, I saw one like it the other day, and now this, a movie about “music producers” who hold auditions for their record label that are a total scam. Though most of the film is scripted, the bulk of the auditions are real -- ads were placed, bands were heard, and the two lead actors tried to hustle them and get them to sign. Afterwards, told what was up, the musicians pretty much got it and agreed to be in the movie anyway. What’s striking is that they could just as easily all be character actors, since they hit the same acting tone as the actual cast.
The movie opens with hopeless nerd Martin (Pat Healy) getting a job interview for what seems to be a radio job, but turns out to be music production -- sort of. The idea is to audition new talent, and sign them, but not just the good ones. See, part of the pitch is that while the company, “Great World of Sound,” pays certain studio costs, etc., the artist has to pay a percentage themselves, upfront. And it soon becomes clear that everything beyond that is a con, all to get the checks, which are to be made out to “GWS,” the company acronym but also the president’s initials.
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Healy teams up with a black guy named Clarence (Kene Holliday), which allows them to play good cop/bad cop with black singers (Clarence pitching them the idea that his white boss doesn’t get their music, but he does, etc.). The actors mostly improvised their pitches, and come up with some great lines, like “When Jesus walked on water, the first thing he did was get out of the boat!” Holliday, it turns out, was both the voice of Roadblock in the G.I. Joe cartoon, and Matlock’s sidekick Tyler. I wouldn’t have guessed, but his performance here is one of the year’s best. Healy’s role is less flashy, but he’s no slouch -- deadpan delivery of dialogue like “I’m not gonna drink because I just brushed my teeth” is his forte.
With David Gordon Green’s name attached, you might expect a Southern flavor, and you get it...the action mostly takes place around Charlotte, NC, and there’s an overwhelming sense of rural economic desperation as a backdrop. And it doesn’t subside. This may be a comedy, but there’s no guarantee of a happy ending.
At one point, Martin says to a would-be critic, “I’m self-deprecating. All you gotta do is watch.” That applies to the movie as well. Before it’s done, it goes to surprisingly dark places -- nothing violent or anything, just really questionable moral choices that don’t get answered in a tidy fashion.
But beyond all that, it’s really freakin’ funny. So go see it.