Sunday, March 30, 2008

Great World of Sound: Grade C

Great World of Sound (2007)
Pat Healy, Kene Holliday, John Baker; Director and co-writer Craig Zobel.

Down on their luck but ambitious young men attend a “get rich” seminar in which a couple of smooth con men explain how they can become record producers. The company puts ads in newspapers and the “producers” screen the singing acts that appear, promising to make the dream happen, if only the artist will put up $3000 (a mere 30%) to “participate” in the production. Two of the guys, Healy and Holliday go forth earnestly and do rather well. Much of the movie shows excerpts of the acts they review and the cajoling of the “participation” fee out of the naive, self-obsessed artists. The acts are generally awful, a few show potential, though none are great. This part of the movie was waaaaay too long. I got the idea after the third clip, but over a dozen are shown. Gradually, the “producers” (at least Healy) come to realize that no records are going to be made and they are just ripoff artists. That should be a great dramatic story of conscience, but it doesn’t quite fly here. The climax occurs when even after his self-realization, Healy is forced to cold-heartedly rip off one more innocent just to make plane fare home.

The con men running the company are archetypal, and that part of the movie is terrific satire, reminiscent of Glengarry, Glen Ross. Then the theme changes to a buddy movie as Healy and Holliday learn how to screen and fleece the acts, though at first they are sincere. Holliday might be wise to the con from the beginning; that is not clear. Healy’s epiphany is not very dramatic. It just seems to sneak up on him. More confrontation was needed to dramatize his character change, which is the heart of the movie. The consequences for the victims are not explored, for example. Finally, the guys quit the company and go home as if nothing happened, a thud of an ending. Acting by Holliday and Baker (the company boss), is notably good; less so, the others. Dramatic tension is at the level of wet laundry. The directing and editing are good on the various performing acts, but there is too much of that. Sets are terrific. So it is a watchable movie, not a comedy, but a human drama with a few laughs.

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