“Believe it or not, anyone can be famous. And you don’t really need God-given abilities to do it. That doesn’t mean you go out and shoot up a crowded theater. That’s wrong. If you’re motivated you can get yourself on a reality TV show or jump cars on a motorcycle, or marry a movie star. Or simply find a wife willing to have 20 kids. As for myself, my best shot at the limelight is to buddy up to the President. I just need the attention of the media first.”
It was artist Any Warhol who said that in the future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. The quote has been lampooned and is now a part of our pop culture. Crazy Famous is a low-budget film written by Bob Farkas and directed by Paul Jarrett. So do they get their 15 minutes, or is it Time’s up?
Meet Bob (Lay). He uses a portable trampoline to jump over the fence at Camp David in order to be very publically arrested. Instead he finds himself in a mental institution and no one knows what he did. All he wants is to get a shot at the limelight. It’s in the mental institution that he meets a few folks who might be a little crazier than he is. Larry (Cruz) has anger management problems. Dr. Phil (Levin) thinks he’s… well… Dr. Phil. He looks quite a bit like the talk show host and likes to diagnose his fellow patients. Then there’s Mr. Smith (Short) who believes he’s basically James Bond. He uses Bond nicknames for his fellow patients, calling Bob Felix after the Bond CIA character. He claims that he’s been put there because he knows where Bin Laden is. Of course, everyone knows that Bin Laden is already dead… or is he? So Bob organizes an escape plan for these merry men so that they can get to Bin Laden and take him out. Of course, Smith is crazy. Or is he? The patients escape and go on a journey to be real-life heroes. Certainly there are a few complications along the way.
Sounds crazy, right? It kind of is. The story has a lot of holes that the short 78-minute running time can’t quite fill in just right. The pacing is another huge problem. The film lingers on trivial moments and bits wasting time it really doesn’t have while moving too quickly over material that actually works or moves the improbable plot forward. The ending of the film, with the exception of a wonderful one minute coda, is horrible. The film shifts gears too quickly, and for such a short amount of time that it’s too jarring to keep you in the moment. But there are a few saving graces that make this film a bit more entertaining than it honestly has any right to be.
It starts with the cast. The acting isn’t going to win any awards here, and to be honest it’s not often very good. But there are two things that salvage the performances. The first is that director Jarrett manages to get some rather nice chemistry moments out of the group. There are moments when they can actually be fun to watch, and you feel the film’s potential. The other is Richard Short, who has a decidedly Colin Clive look going for him. He ends up stealing every minute of the film from the intended star Gregory Lay. It’s just no contest. The guy manages to bring up the level of the material by selling out completely to a whimsical role. He basically intercepts the ball and takes it to the house. His final minute saves a horrible ending and opens the door for a sequel.
The film’s budget is obviously quite low, but I do credit Jarrett for making the most out of his limited production values. He might be horrible at pacing and story, but he manages to make these limited locations work well for him. I suspect he might make a better line producer than director in the future. The end result is often awkward, but somewhat entertaining. It’s the kind of film that reminds one that “We’re just one bad day away from eating each other’s feces.”