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The Independent Reviews

If you recognize the names Ted V. Mikels, Al Adamson, Andy Sidaris, Fred Olen Ray and Lloyd Kaufman, you're the target audience for this mockumentary about exploitation filmmaker Morty Fineman (Jerry Stiller). The writer/director/producer team of Stephen Kessler and Mike Wilkins would probably tell you they were thinking more along the lines of Roger Corman, who appears in their film as himself and good-naturedly describes his friendly rivalry with the fictitious Fineman. But the wretched fake film clips they've worked up make Corman's ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS look like CITIZEN KANE — and don't think we missed the STUCK ON YOU poster on Morty's office wall. Fineman got his start in the Army Signal Corps (which graduated the real-life likes of Russ Meyer and Paul Bartel), where he made a VD film called "The Simplex Complex," and built his career on a canny (some might say cynical) mix of topicality, violence, and T&A. When the Vietnam War raged, he made a movie about conjoined twins — a hippie and a gung-ho patriot — who get drafted. When the ecology movement was hot, he made movies about tree-hugging biker babes. When feminism was in the spotlight, he responded with films about busty career women in extremely short skirts. But Fineman's attempt at serious filmmaking, "The Whole Story of America" (clearly meant to recall Corman's disasterous GAS-S-S-S!) was a disaster and times have passed him by. Production has been shut down on his newest opus, an exploitation picture about the right to die with dignity, because he can't pay his bills. Still, what Fineman lacks in talent he has in brass cojones, so he coerces his estranged daughter Paloma (Janeane Garofalo) into joining his company and helping him produce a film about convicted serial murderer William Henry Ellis (Larry Hankin) that will, he's certain, solve his financial problems. Meanwhile, loyal assistant Ivan (Max Perlich) unearths a small town willing to honor the old schlockmeister with a retrospective. The film features former Sex Pistol John Lydon as a snotty cineaste; Anne Meara, Stiller's wife, as Morty's ex; Stiller's children Amy and Ben in cameo roles; Andy Dick as a high-handed restaurant host and Ginger Lynn Allen as a hooker-turned-politician. Exploitation filmmaking stalwarts and graduates Ron Howard, Karen Black, Peter Bogdanovich and Fred Williamson appear as themselves. Everyone involved obviously had a blast, but in the end this is a one-joke movie, and the joke is stretched too thin.