I’ll admit it. I was taken in by The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico, for about five minutes. I’m not a follower of the country music scene, so it didn’t really bother me that I had never heard of Guy Terrifico before. The box art explained he came and went in the early 70’s, when I was just a kid myself, so none of this was the least bit suspicious to me at all. The film opens believably enough with Kris Kristofferson on stage dedicating his next song to this Guy Terrifico. When we get to that first interview… however, I was getting mighty suspicious. Now I might not be no Jim Rockford, but I am as Italian as Columbo, so I started to sense that something was not quite right here. I instantly paused the film and began to research Guy Terrifico. You know what I came up with? You guessed it. There never was a Guy Terrifico. I was watching This Is Spinal Tap country style. I guess that just got me off on the wrong start with this film. And I’ll freely admit now I might have enjoyed this a whole lot more if I had known going in what I was watching. That’s why I loved Spinal Tap but have a bit of a cold feeling for Guy. You might consider I just wrecked the film for you, but trust me, I might just have saved you some frustration.
The story of Guy Terrifico is too bizarre to be true, which of course it isn’t. It seems that good ol’ guy was an outlaw and heavy drug addict for most of his short life. His big break came when he hit the Canadian lotto for $8 million Canadian (That’s about $2.36 in American). As his widow tells us: “It took care of our drug problem. Getting drugs just wasn’t any problem at all after that”. Through interviews and “archive” footage we are given the ridicules story of Guy all the way to his mysterious death. But did Guy actually die that night on stage? The film leads us to believe not. Most of the folks being interviewed look like they’re making this stuff up as they go along. Where Spinal Tap looked real enough to work, Guy Terrifico always appears to be just one step beyond the realm of reality. Even such stars as Kristofferson and Merle Haggard couldn’t carry the weight of this farce. While the jokes are long on telling and short on laughs, the film actually does sport a few really good musical performances.
Most of The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I say most because some of the film is this “archive” stuff that is made to look bad intentionally. In these segments grain is more common than in the actual picture. The majority of the film comes off looking relatively good. Colors are strong and black levels are deep. Sharpness suffers, likely because of the documentary style being mimicked here.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is mostly wasted. The rears only serve as the voice of the interviewer and an occasional audience sound. Obviously a film like this is all dialogue and works fine in that respect. The musical numbers are also varied depending on how “vintage” we’re being led to believe the footage is. The studio work with Kristofferson is actually quite nice.
“Deleted Scenes” These are pretty much more of the same and serve mostly to make us suspect that Guy is still alive and living in Cuba.
“Kris Reminisces” A lot of this is actually real. Kristofferson talks about a few music legends he did work with. The John Prine story is particularly interesting, if true. Unfortunately near the last 3 minutes of the 18 minute piece Guy Terrifico comes up and, for me at least, ruins the whole thing.
“Kris Sings” A studio video of Kristofferson singing The New Mr. Me..
The film’s major flaw is not coming clean with what it is. I honestly believe I might have felt a lot better knowing it going in. The whole idea might have been clever 20 years ago, but today it’s an overlong Saturday Night Live sketch at best. I also suspect the jokes might be funnier to a country music fan. My best advice is, if you are remotely interested in this one, rent it first. Whatever you do, don’t “bring it home”.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes
- Kris Reminisces
- Kris Sings