When you try to explain what Best Worst Movie is about to anyone, even a lot of film fans, you're likely to receive a blank stare or a confused line of questioning. So it's a documentary about bad movies? How can it just be about Troll 2? Why would anyone make a documentary about Troll 2, a movie that few have seen except in some late night cable fever dream? My own attempts at explaining it were pretty lame: Well, because it's funny, and because Troll 2 has a cult following thanks to the Internet, the Alamo Drafthouse, and IMDB forums. People really, really love to laugh at this movie. It's just really funny, and the documentary explores the fandom, and the poor people behind Troll 2, and ... never mind.

But you shouldn't say "never mind" about Best Worst Movie. Yes, this is a documentary about Troll 2. You'll learn about the people they stuffed into those awful masks, about how the director nailed young Darren Ewing's own Chuck Taylors to a flower pot and made him stand for 14 hours straight, and that Rossella Drudi wrote it in a fit of pique after her friends became vegetarians. You'll learn just how mortifying it is to be in a movie that's so very, very bad and what it does to your fledgling dreams of stardom. You'll learn more than you ever wanted about Troll 2, but that doesn't mean this is a documentary to say "meh, never mind" about, because Best Worst Movie isn't just about one crappy movie from 1990. In its own kooky way, it's about everything. It's about the breathlessness of fandom, delusions of grandeur, the power of the Internet, the skeletons in your closet, and settling for ordinary when you dreamed about the stars.
Unfortunately, a description like that makes it sound pretentious, which Best Worst Movie is anything but. While there are some truly scary moments of self-delusion on display, they don't come from Michael Stephenson or the enthusiastic George Hardy. Troll 2 fans know Hardy as the blustering father who says "You don't piss on hospitality!", but many people will meet him for the first time in Movie as he happily navigates the phenomenon of his only acting attempts. He's wisely chosen by Stephenson as the documentary's star because there's not a trace of cynicism, bitterness, or discontent in this bubbly Alabama dentist. He is the sort of guy who might be your dentist for years before you found out he was in Troll 2.

His zeal for the movie and its fan following is so infectious that it even spreads through his hometown, and retirees queue up for Troll 2 without any idea of what they're in for. Even if there are times when he doesn't entirely seem to understand the joke (and really, is there anyone who truly does?), he makes up for it with his kindness and charisma. Often, he's a cuddly buffer against some of the more unpleasant characters that are on display here, such as director Claudio Fragasso, who genuinely believes he made a really, really good film.

I hope Best Worst Movie gains wider distribution, because I believe that it's the kind of documentary that can appeal to anyone. It's an underdog story, and is accordingly funny, warm, engaging, and sad. It'll resonate with your fandom (no matter where your obsessive proclivities lie), and speaks to that part of you that always wanted to be a star, that part of you that still wonders "What if?" as you settled for a career in law, medicine, or technology. It's amazing what one really, really bad movie manages to say -- and all without a single troll.
categories Cinematical