I can't help but wonder if movies should always be graded on the same scale. Should Godfather Part II be graded on the same scale as Space Chimps? When I review Step Brothers should I look at it the same way as Hostel? I have always looked at movies from a perspective of pure entertainment in my eyes, is there really any other way? Should I look at Mamma Mia! and give it a better grade than it actually deserves in my eyes just because the target audience is going to enjoy it even though I did not? To these questions I say, "No." In the case here with Baghead, should I give it a pass because it was made by a couple of guys that are trying their hardest to become big-time filmmakers even though their film sucks as it attempts to satirize their industry? And when I say "attempts" I mean it. The satire is hardly worthy of recognition.
Baghead centers on four film school students looking to make their big break. The idea is to head out to the woods and hole up in a cabin for the weekend and bang out a script (there's one jab at Hollywood for yah). With no idea as to what they are going to do they begin drinking and ultimately end up blank on that first night. That same night one of the women in the group wakes up and runs outside to throw up, while out there she sees a guy with a bag on his head in the forest. She wakes up thinking it was a dream and the next morning tells her friends. The only problem, it was real, and it WAS real.
Of course, this is fantastic news. This is a great idea for a film and since it was just a dream there is nothing to worry about. A couple of the cats in our troupe are interested in the idea; others seem turned off by it. Nothing seems to be getting accomplished and the story spirals downward into a relationship drama countered by a is the baghead guy real? plotline. The only problem is that the baghead guy was real, and then he isn't, and then he is, and then who the fuck cares? Baghead is a film hell-bent on confusing the audience for confusion's sake. Nothing is gained when all is said and done and you walk away from it thinking you have just watched an amateur student film when in fact the Duplass brothers have several other films under their belt as either actors, directors or producers and schlock like this isn't what they should be working on at this point in their careers. It is cliché, derivative and worthless. It is filled with cheap thrills and stupid characters I would rather actually see killed than have to listen to another word out of their mouth.
Ross Partridge plays Matt who is a cocky dick. Steve Zissis plays Chad who is easily one of the most pathetically annoying characters I have had the displeasure of watching on film. Elise Muller plays Catherine who I am guessing is supposed to be the pretty one, which must be the reason she is able to get by as the bitch. And Greta Gerwig plays Michelle, the drunk of the group with eyes for Matt even though Chad has a school boy crush on her. To put it plainly, you don't care about any one of these characters and if any or all of them dies it wouldn't be a sad day.
Typically the major appeal to an independent film is the characters. Independent filmmakers make their living on writing characters that are real and audiences are able to connect with. This services the story and lifts it above what may be a simple story and gives it the life it otherwise may not have earned. While the Duplass brothers may have created characters that are real, and some people may be able to connect with them, they have also created characters you don't care about. These are the people you meet in life and unless you are like them you don't want to have anything to do with them and even then we are talking about a minority of the population that probably hates themselves and wouldn't dream of spending any time with someone like them either.
Chad has major self-esteem issues and unless you are willing to deal with them he will drive you crazy. Matt wants to be the leader and may be the most likable of the bunch, but he really brings nothing to the table. Catherine seems like someone that would only be your friend if you told her how great she was every minute. And Michelle will like you as long as you have another drink to offer. Sorry, these people are not for me and your simple duplicitous story is not worth my time or my recommendation.
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