Film: Danny Roane: First Time Director
Directed by, starring, and written by: Andy Dick
I’ve never made any secret of my opinion that Andy Dick is a comedic genius. His old TV program, The Andy Dick Show, was a great display of sketch comedy which treated the world to such gems as Pebop the Death Row Clown, Christina Aguilera’s ugly cousin, and Marilyn Manson playing Mary Poppins. Unfortunately (I think), Mr. Dick is better known for being a drugged-out creeper who menaces the world with his dong and then rides the rehab train. In his directorial debut, Dick does a little of both, which works pretty well.
Danny Roane combines Mr. Dick’s weirdo comedic sensibilities with his adventures in being a lush. Danny Roane the character is little more than a fictionalized Dick, a recovering boozer who once publicly peed on Frankie Muniz from Malcolm in the Middle and who now, in true matroyshka narrative style, is making a film about his harrowing experiences with drugs and alcohol. Of course, the second a drop of alcohol hits his tongue he’s back off the rails, and his film’s production becomes a spastic fever dream which ends with him slapping a lady at a Jewish women’s film convention while Hitler prances about onscreen.
My favorite part of the film is when the director shows his prior performance as a slutty Cleopatra who humps the asp which does her in. Dying, his Cleopatra sneers “What an asp!” which may be the best last words I’ve ever heard.
The surrounding cast is pretty great, with Roane’s cast and crew attempting to rein him in and not torpedo their careers. Of special note are the director’s behemoth best friend who has to pull Roane out of many embarrassing situations (including a really creepy scene involving Maura Tierney’s dog), the gung-ho assistant director who has a yen for shaving his cast, and Roane’s set designer, a beady-eyed little man who tends to find himself shrieking for help in the midst of adversity. The latter’s combination of sad bastard hope and spazzy irritation makes him a great character to watch.
The movie star cameos, all playing themselves, are a mixed bag. Obliviously supportive James van der Beek shows up for a while, and he gets his hinder shaved and wears a bloody butt rag. After Danny Roane drunkenly changes the film’s format to a musical, Anthony Rapp from Rent takes over, barfs a lot, and sings a weird song about drugs. Jack Black plays a stoner God with clear disdain for the film he’s making. The silver lining about Ben Stiller’s sedately disturbed cameo is that one gets to see that ridiculously manly painting of his character from Dodgeball wrestling a bull.
Yet this is entirely Andy Dick’s show, which is as it should be. I’d have liked to see more of Dick’s weird sketch comedy sensibilities in the film and not so much of the main character stumbling around dead drunk, but there is enough invention to make this not entirely feel like a documentary about Dick’s triumphant substance tolerance. That said, Dick does know how to play an awesome drunk. He’s certainly had the practice.
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