No Burgers for Bigfoot (2007) - By Duane L. Martin

Editor of Rogue Cinema

I really enjoy well done mockumentaries.  By well done, I mean ones that aren't stupid and don't sound totally fake and like they're trying to hard to be funny.  I've seen great ones and I've seen ones that totally blew it and just weren't enjoyable at all.

Naturally when you think mockumentary, films like Spinal Tap, Fear of a Black Hat and the Christoper Guest films like Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, etc...come to mind.  No Burgers for Bigfoot is a similar kind of a film in that it follows the exploits of a less than adept film maker, his highly untalented cast, and his mostly clueless crew as they try to make a film about bigfoot.

So how was it?  Was it great or was it a goat?  Well, honestly I can say, this film was absolutely awesome.  It's one of those films where through much of it you're kinda laughing quietly for smiling to yourself and really enjoying it, and then every so often something seriously, seriously funny happens and you really bust out laughing.  I have to say that the funniest parts of this film for me revolved around this really nice and likeable black girl they hired as a production assistant.   The director hired her because she was black and he wanted to have a little diversity, but the thing is, no one, including him, was at all comfortable saying anything stereotypical around her or even mentioning the fact that she was black.  It created some unbelievably hilarious, awkward moments that were just beautifully acted and worked flawlessly.  It takes a lot to make me laugh that hard at a film, so when that happens, you know they did something right.  I think there were about three or so moments like that, and they were just priceless.

The film itself is shot in the kind of a documentary style that you see on a lot of behind the scenes featurettes on many DVDs, only this is full length, and includes a screening of the completed film at the end, with an epilogue afterward that checks up on the director and some of the cast and crew in the aftermath of the project.

What I really loved about this film was how great the performances were.  The dialogue delivery sounded kind of typical for this type of a film, but the way it was done had a naturalness to it also that really enhanced all the awkwardness of the interactions and the ridiculous social and working situations the people in this film found themselves in.  It was all brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed by an extremely talented cast.

Technically, the film was great.  The edits jumped around the way these style of films usually do, covering different events in kind of a jumping around in a one situation to the next fashion, if that makes any sense.  The sound was excellent and I had no trouble hearing what anyone was saying. 

There's some quotes on the DVD itself and one of them caught my eye that I just had to comment on.  It's a quote from Gary Fredrickson, Oscar winning producer of The Godfather.  It says, "A LOT funnier than N. Dynamite!"  N. Dynamite being Napoleon Dynamite for those who don't know or haven't seen it.  Anyway, I just had to say this.  A dog doing the hunchback and dropping a turd is a LOT funnier than Napoleon Dynamite.  That movie just sucked and wasn't funny in the least.  It was more irritatingly annoying than anything else.  So saying this movie was a LOT funnier than that one isn't saying much, nor is it really a comparison because they're different types of movies.  A more fair comparison would be to say that it's a lot funnier than say a film like Spinal Tap, which while funny, wasn't as consistently as funny as this film, nor did its humor rise to the level that the humor in this film did.  Don't get me wrong here, I love Spinal Tap.  This one for me at least was just funnier and more enjoyable.

So that's it.  What we have here is a seriously fun film that's a definite must see. 

 

Film Threat Review - By Phil Hall

5/5 stars!

As a film reviewer, I get to an awful lot of movies – not to mention a lot of awful movies. When a stinker starts to smell up the screen, it is easy to wonder: What the hell was the filmmaker thinking?

That question is the basis of “No Burgers for Bigfoot,” a wonderfully sly deadpan comedy from Oklahoma filmmaker Jonathan Grant. Wearing five hats here (director, producer, writer, editor and star), Grant pulls off an amazing feat in skewering the pretensions and inanities of no-budget indie filmmaking in a manner that is thoroughly original and completely unpredictable.

“No Burgers for Bigfoot” takes a cinema verite approach to how a very bad movie idea metastasizes into a thoroughly atrocious end product. The key to this calamity is Grant’s unique screen persona: Michael Justice, a low-energy, vaguely sleazy, utterly clueless would-be Kubrick. His notion that he would spend his time creating a short Bigfoot-related horror film that would carry a significant social message is shockingly wrong, yet no one who gets sucked into the project seems to notice the obvious flaws of the project. In fact, one of the film’s many amusing running gags involves the one production-related aspect where everyone is bothered: the idea of calling the movie “Return of the Bigfoot” (people keep asking if it is a sequel, because technically the Bigfoot cannot return if no one saw him leave).

Needless to say, Michael Justice doesn’t bother surrounding himself with people who are concerned about quality filmmaking. His leading lady is a dizzy would-be starlet who is trying to position herself as the next big thing (she displays her Hollywood liberal cred by proclaiming: “I know about global warming – I’m all for it!”). His second leading lady is a self-absorbed Russian whose English is utterly impenetrable. His leading man is a country boy who is more interested in doing card tricks than trying to get into character as a trash-talking urban hood. And his corporate sponsor is satisfied to finance this mess as long as his business – a bovine insemination company – gets product placement.

For Michael Justice, his lack of expertise in making films – let alone dealing with people – constantly trips him up. He has his cast baking in extended outdoor sequences by reminding them the sun is necessary to illuminate the shots, while his attempts to frame an overhead angle while walking on wobbly stilts results in having his jittery actors serve to catch his inevitable tumbles. When he collides with the real world, he is either shockingly tactless (he complains that a cemetery scene is being disrupted by a mourner who lacks the courtesy to temporarily position herself at another headstone) or swatted like a pest (at one point he is hauled off in handcuffs by a police officer with no interest in indie films).

Of course, the Bigfoot film eventually gets made and the result (complete with an out-of-left-field country music number!) has to be seen to be believed.

Indeed, all of “No Burgers for Bigfoot” has to be seen to believed – it is so original and delightful that it locks the viewer’s attention from start to finish. Grant keeps the film at a brisk, smooth, consistent level. He wisely avoids the temptation to get zany or sarcastic (a key failing of too many indie comedies), and instead he maintains a deceptively leisurely pacing that slowly evolves into wildly bizarre situations.

And the true beauty of “No Burgers for Bigfoot” is that none of the characters becomes wise to what is going down around them. This is especially brilliant in the film’s very last scene, when Michael Justice explains what transpires when the film is entered in its first festival. I will not spoil that closing joke, but I will confess that I never saw it coming and I laughed loud and hard when it hit. And I found myself saying: For once, there is an indie comedy that is genuinely funny!

“No Burgers for Bigfoot” is a major winner and Jonathan Grant is clearly a talent who deserves to be in the spotlight.