I have absolutely no idea what to make of "Me & Michael," a self-described "docu-comedy" that plays as little more than a demo reel for comedian/filmmaker Willard Morgan. The film is a dreadfully unfunny plummet into the sub-Troma world of barely-making-it Hollywood entertainers; it's so under the radar that as of this writing, IMDB still doesn't even have it listed.
The premise pretends to be about Morgan's failed attempts to interview Michael Moore - a premise that suggests a political documentary of some sort, perhaps. (Ah, but talk show host Larry Elder already made a movie called "Michael & Me," and so Morgan's left using the more grammatically questionable alternative.) Once we settle in to actually watch the thing, however, we realize that hey, aside from a throwaway mention in the prologue, Michael Moore isn't even mentioned for twenty-some minutes - and that's a third of this short work's running time.
The real story is Morgan himself, who tells of how, after failing at stand-up comedy and acting, he gave filmmaking a go, which led him to a ten-minute documentary about film festivals ("Festival Fever") that went on to win a few prizes on the festival circuit, leaving him convinced that a career in directing is in his future. We follow Morgan, a "compulsive videographer" who videotapes his own every move, first as he tries to break into the business, and then as he tries to get his movie seen by Moore, who thinks Morgan is come crazed stalker. Along the way, Morgan interviews other struggling Hollywood hopefuls and discusses just how hard it is to get a movie career off the ground.
None of this is remotely interesting, but we haven't even gotten started yet. Morgan treats most of the project as a mockumentary, casting himself in various goofy roles (the snooty Italian! the kooky Brit!) that aim to show off his wacky comic talents and setting up fakey situations that are bound to showcase his masterful comic timing (while videotaping a last will and testament, the guy dies right on camera, and Morgan has to react and stuff!). He wraps up by combining real footage of himself getting kicked out of Moore's offices with jokey bits about him turning into a maniac.
It turns out "Me & Michael" has been retooled from a collection of short films Morgan previously made. "Fever Pitch" is the half-hour version of the Morgan-meets-Moore story and contains the most amount of "real" footage; "Confessions of a Filmaholic" has Morgan going to a 12-step program for filmmakers, meeting his assortment of "hilarious" characters along the way. We also get a glimpse of other Morgan projects, all of which look extremely awful. As for the new stuff, it's in there, too, somewhere. The film shows a copyright date of 2006, meaning that in a way, this feature has been some ten years in the making (footage of his stalking of Moore is from the mid-1990s).
It's also a royal mess. We never know when Morgan's winking at us and when he's genuinely trying to tell a story. When he goes overboard in referring to himself as "an award-winning filmmaker," is he being sly and sarcastic, or his he deadly serious in his self-delusion? We just can't tell, because Morgan can never settle on what, exactly, he's trying to do with his movie. Is this the tale of trying to make it in Hollywood? Is it a spotlight for his best comic characters? I don't even think Morgan knows himself. He's just taken a bunch of footage he's been shooting and slapped it together haphazardly in the hopes that maybe someone will see the movie, look up his website, and hire him to play "Jelvis: The Jewish Elvis" at their next convention. (Sadly, "Jelvis" - an actual character performed by Morgan - does not appear in the film, but a quick look online suggests it's his biggest character.)
The only thing that's clear is that Morgan is lousy at comedy and worse at filmmaking. "Me & Michael" is an unwatchable disaster of a kinda-movie, the sort of underground production that springs up just enough for you to wish it hadn't.
Shot on an assortment of crappy video stock, "Me & Michael" looks, well, crappy. This isn't so much the fault of the transfer as the original footage itself, but still. Yuck. Even the titles are fuzzy and grainy. Presented in the original full frame (1.33:1) format.
Sounds crappy, too. Morgan apparently was often working with the camera's built-in microphone. No subtitles are included, but you were thinking they would be?
It's more from the Willard Morgan demo reel, with four short films: "Misguided Tours" (a wretchedly unfunny and annoyingly edited travelogue featuring his Italian character), "Touch of Velvet" (a wretchedly unfunny crime spoof shot on an ancient camcorder), and the aforementioned "Festival Fever" and "Confessions of a Filmaholic," both of which are, you guessed it, wretchedly unfunny.
Not that it matters, but the DVD cover lists the trailer as an extra, but it's not here anywhere. Go figure.
Look, even the DVD case itself is terrible, mixing its typefaces, tossing in bad grammar, and throwing us the creaky gag of fake quotes. (The guy who's in it says it's great! Har!) Skip It… and try to pretend you never heard of it in the first place.