When you watch Cinemax after midnight, you may come across the works of the Morty Finemans of the world. While the thought that this really bad movie you’re watching actually has a “social conscience” may never cross your mind, don’t tell that to Morty.
In The Independent, a comedy starring Jerry Stiller as the king of B-movies, we meet Morty and the delusional world in which he resides. The director of 427 feature films – including L.S.D-Day, Assassin In A See-Thru Blouse, A Very Malcolm Xmas, Uncle Tomboy, Cheerleader Camp Massacre, World War III and part II, and The Whole Story Of America – Fineman self-proclaims himself an artist.
Although most of the mockumentary hilariously deals with Morty’s vision and the products he churns out, the film is divided into two parts – and the other one just doesn’t fit.
As he deals with the bank that is refusing to continue financing his films, Morty tries to restore a strained relationship with his daughter Paloma (Jeanine Garofalo). Although she loves him, she is rational enough to realize people only see his films for the T & A and bombs.
Garofalo’s Paloma is suitable but ultimately a drag. Just when a scene from one of Morty’s unintentionally funny movies is shown, the film cuts back to the struggling Fineman studio and its quest to get its latest project, Mrs. Kevorkian, off the ground.
It appears The Independent attempts to be a statement piece of an artist who loves his work, only adding sprinkles of comedy to move the story along. But it ultimately falls flat because the actors portraying the lead roles are simply applying the same schtick they’ve always done. Even in a scene between Morty and Paloma, Garofalo deadpans to Stiller, “You don’t have to shout.”
Stiller, known from his Seinfeld stint as George’s dad and Kramer’s best friend, is infamous for his obnoxious booming voice and doesn’t try to hide it here. And although Garofalo shows a bit of a stretch by caring rather than be condescending, her dramatic turn doesn’t fit in a comedy better served with laughs.
The best parts of the film come from snippets of Fineman’s films and celebrity interviews where Ron Howard and the like talk of Morty’s influence.
There is something to be said about the subculture in Hollywood where B-movies are made. It’s just not clear whether The Independent says enough.
All in all, the creative team behind the production earn kudos for coming up with the scene where one of Morty’s female characters goes swimming in a toxic waste-polluted lake and comes out with three breasts. It is B-movies of that nature that make you want more from The Independent.
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