American Movie

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1

Content: -3

Mark Borchardt lives and breathes filmmaking, and with his old 8mm movie camera, he has struggled for two years to complete a 35-minute horror film. Milwaukee, Wisconsin is hardly the center of creative arts, but Mark enlists his mother, brother and a group of friends to spend many long nights and weekends in his never-ending project. Mom may hold the camera so Mark can direct and act, or she may be one of the witches in a cemetery scene. In the midst of all this activity, Mark talks about himself, his family and friends. We find out he is a cemetery groundskeeper, lives with his girlfriend, and has three children by a former girlfriend. Marks father has reluctantly advanced his son $10,000 and Marks elderly uncle has been talked into contributing $3,000. This self-documentary illuminates the determination of a young man most would describe as a loser chasing his dream. AMERICAN MOVIE has earned high marks at the Sundance Film Festival, but for the average moviegoer, it is nothing more than a boring home movie.

In spite of Marks neer-do-well persona and his stringy, dirty hair, he kind of grows on you like warts, maybe, but likable. His family and friends are supportive of his unrealistic effort, and his affection for his geriatric uncle and benefactor seems genuine. Mark describes himself and his family as dysfunctional and admits religion has no place in his life. He is upset that the mother of his children wants to move out of state, but he cant provide a stable home environment for them. He shows extreme patience with his slow-witted friend whose brain has been damaged from previous drug and alcohol abuse. Filthy language includes 40 f-words and 19 s-words, and when Marks little girl says the s-word, he tells her he doesnt care if she swears. Frequent beer and vodka drinking add to the films offensiveness. A few gory scenes of staged violence are just that, although a car is bashed and an actors head banged into a kitchen cabinet several times during the filming. Theres no sex or nudity, but AMERICAN MOVIE will leave a bad taste in the mouths of viewers who wont understand why Marks determination to validate his life has nothing to do with providing a positive role model for his children.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Sony Pictures Classics, 550 Madison Ave., 8th Flr, NY, NY 10022

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (19) times - Mild 14, Moderate 5

Obscene Language: Many (61) times - F word 40, s word 19, other 2

Profanity: Many (14) times - Regular 8 (GD5, G 2, JC 1), Exclamatory 6

Violence: Few times - Moderate (actors head banged, car windows based, staged gory images)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Several times (hard liquor and beer drinking; references to drug use)

Other: Man suffers from brain damage from drug abuse; lack of family values, religious faith

Running Time: 90 minutes
Intended Audience: Young adults

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