American Movie

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Director:Chris Smith
Release:Sony Pictures Classics; R; 104
With:Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank, Monica Borchardt

When I first saw the trailer for American Movie, I assumed it was a mockumentary about a bumbling bunch of working class Wisconsinites inspired by The Blair Witch Project to make a flimsy horror film of their own. The truth is much, much scarier.

In the vein of Crumb comes American Movie, a very real documentary, the kind that borders on exploitation of its subjects. It follows the life and times of Mark Borchardt, a wannabe filmmaker with no production background, very few resources, and an unshakable determination the likes of which haven't been seen since Ed Wood. He lives in his parents' basement, has three children, and his best friend is a oafish burnout who "used to party hard." This is their story.

They are trying to make a B-movie horror flick called "Coven" but pronounced with a long-o sound because Borchardt doesn't want his movie to rhyme with "oven". Strangely engaging and disturbingly voyeuristic, documentarian Chris Smith manages to sidestep easy criticism by honestly celebrating the quirked-out ambitions of one wacky everyman who clings tenaciously to a dream.

Sources +