"Slacker Makes Bad"
What You Need To Know:
AMERICAN MOVIE is a unique, often funny documentary about a 30-year-old man in Wisconsin named Mark Borchardt who is struggling to make a career of making movies. The filmmakers follow Mark around for three years as he tries to complete a short horror movie, which he hopes to sell in order to get the money to make more independent movies. Mark tries to get money out of his elderly rich uncle, Bill Borchardt. One of the people helping Mark shoot the movie is his slacker friend, Mike Schank, who has spent his young life drinking too much and doing too many drugs, but is now on the wagon. Mike does have musical talent.
AMERICAN MOVIE includes lots of strong foul language, alcohol use and images of home-made, cut-rate, horror movie violence. It takes an amoral view toward Mark and his friends and family. The director leaves it up to viewers to decide what they think of these people. Mark obviously has a lot of problems, despite his talents and his personal ambition. The end credits reveal the death of Mark's uncle following the filming, which shows the importance of having a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ.
(AbAb, PaPa, LLL, VV, N, AA, DD, M) Amoral worldview of real-life, self-centered man with hedonistic attitudes who is pursuing his dreams to make movies; 94 obscenities & 15 profanities; images of home-made, cut-rate, horror movie violence such as goo coming out of boy's mouth & torso, blood dripping down people's heads, man bangs other man's head through kitchen cabinet, eventually shattering it; no sex; upper male nudity; alcohol use, drunkenness & one young man admits he is an alcoholic; smoking & a couple discussions of using drugs; and, miscellaneous immorality such as drunken son vents rage against mother's lack of direction in her life & young man says he is half Christian & half Satanist but Satanist in the sense of a hedonist after sex, money & power.
AMERICAN MOVIE is a unique, often funny documentary about a 30-year-old man in Wisconsin named Mark Borchardt who is struggling to make a career of making movies.
The movie opens with Mark at first trying to shoot an independent drama based loosely on his unsuccessful life in the frozen outskirts somewhere near Milwaukee. Getting funding is hard, however, so he decides to finish a horror short he started. Called COVEN, the short is about a young alcoholic, played by himself, who joins a self-help group, only to find out that the group turns out to be a sinister cult of some kind. Mark figures if he can sell about 3,000 videotapes of this short, he can earn enough money to shoot his next movie.
The crew of AMERICAN MOVIE follows Mark around as he tries to shoot COVEN and as he tries to get money out of his elderly rich uncle, Bill Borchardt. One of the people helping Mark shoot the movie is his slacker friend, Mike Schank, who has spent his young life drinking too much and doing too many drugs (he is now on the wagon). Mike actually has a talent for playing the guitar. He even does a couple classical rifts during the movie and on the soundtrack, much of which he composed himself.
Most of the humor in the movie concerns Mark’s non-stop talking and his relationship with Mike and Uncle Bill. The goofy behavior of these three misfits is often funny, as are some of the comments by other family members and friends, one of whom says about Mark, “His main asset is his mouth.”
Chris Smith, the director of AMERICAN MOVIE, takes an amoral view toward Mark and his friends and family. He leaves it up to viewers to decide what they think of these people. Although Mark can be applauded for trying to make something out of himself and for encouraging the people around him to pursue “the American Dream,” he drinks and curses a lot during the movie. In one scene, he even starts yelling in a mild drunken rage at his mother because he doesn’t want to end up like her and the rest of his family, who lack ambition as he sees it. Also, at one point, he says he is half Christian and half Satanist, but Satanist in the sense that he is hedonistic. In fact, near the end of the movie he half-jokes about his goal of getting sex, money and power. Finally, Mark expresses his appreciation for gory horror movies, which are the kind of home-made movies he has been making since he picked up a camera at age 14.
AMERICAN MOVIE itself is not necessarily evil, because it is merely recording the lifestyle of a young man who obviously has a lot of problems, despite his talents and his personal ambition. Documentaries should, however, have a moral worldview toward their subjects.
Mark finally completes his short movie after three years. He recently told David Letterman on NBC-TV that he has sold about 500 copies of the movie so far. His Uncle Bill, however, died after the filming of this documentary. This just shows the importance of having a healthy relationship with God to give purpose and meaning to one’s life, and, that begins with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.