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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Sophisticated Misfit
The Sophisticated Misfit
Other // Unrated
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Smee]
Review by Chris Neilson | posted June 9, 2008 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
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The Sophisticated Misfit is a breezy hour-long tribute to lowbrow artist Josh Agle, better known as Shag, that's sure to please his fans. Composed of interviews with Agle in his Southern Californian mid-20th-century-modern ranch-style home filled with Polynesian pop d├ęcor, testimonials from his aloha-attired fans and collectors, interviews with his wife, parents and art school teacher, and plenty of his iconic lowbrow graphic art, The Sophisticated Misfit packs enough material to pleasantly fill its short runtime.

Freshman filmmaker Mark Chervinsky includes interviews with Hollywood b-list stars Whoopi Goldberg and Patton Oswalt, but interviews with the likes of designer Paul Frank, Juxtapoz magazine editor Greg Escalante, and the who's who of West Coast and Third Coast tikiphiles, will mean more to many among this title's target audience. But, it is the interviews with Agle, and his wife and parents that are likely to most interest viewers. Though many of the biographical details are likely to be well known by most viewers interested in this release, there's still much that's likely to be new, and the glimpses of the Agles' living room and office are sure to be a treat.

Complaints that Shag's work is over-exposed and overly-commercial are handled much as they've always been. Agle says that he started out as a graphic designer not a fine artist and that his intention has always been to get his work into the hands of the common man on the street that can't afford to buy a $10,000 painting, but can afford a t-shirt or business card case embossed with a Shag design. Thus, Shag maintains a range of work from one-of-a-kind paintings, to limited-run collectibles and prints, to open-run consumer goods.

The Sophisticated Misfit includes footage of the musical co-created by Agle and Cynthia Bradley, Shag With a Twist, as well as plenty of footage of gallery openings and tiki events, but the most frequent break from the talking heads is provided by frequent inter-cuts of Shag's artwork.

Chervinsky's decision to reuse some interview snippets from the body of the documentary in the opening, together with the appearance of a couple of Shag pieces multiple times is a bit of a misfire, but overall The Sophisticated Misfit should satisfy its target audience.

The DVD
The Sophisticated Misfit is available for purchase directly from Smee Entertainment.

The Video:
Shot on standard DV (1.33:1), the video quality, surprisingly, varies considerably. Interlacing and other artifacts are frequently noticeable. While this isn't enough to ruin the value of this release to Shag fans, video quality should be better given that a documentary like this is only as good as it looks.

The Audio:
This release has a 2.0 Dolby Digital audio track. Recorded largely via a built-in camera mic, interviews recorded in quiet, indoor settings generally sound good, but dialogue recorded outside or at gallery openings are often poor.

There are no subtitles available on this release.

The Extras:
Extras include a trailer for the indie flick Morristown: A Love Story; a short about how a Shag serigraph is made (7:30); a one-minute bit with Agle shooting a commercial with Baxter, the dog; and a fourteen-minute tour led by Paul Frank around his studio.

Final Thoughts:
For fans of Shag's iconic artwork, The Sophisticated Misfit will make for an enjoyable hour's viewing.

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