SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE Now On Video On DemandAugust 31, 2011

SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE Now On Video On Demand

Tribeca Film

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE (Tribeca Film).


SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE
By Chris Claro

 

Who knew, 25 years ago, that “viral” would evolve into such a benign, desirable term? Pre-Internet, the word bespoke scourge, pestilence, death. Now, having been co-opted by those who George Carlin once called “the biscuits and Brillo people,” going viral represents the height of cultural awareness and marketing power; thanks to our universal connectedness, we are now all carriers. But 25 years ago, before dancing babies, and keyboard cats, and “Chocolate Rain” passed among us like so many spores, going viral was both more cumbersome and less calculated.

SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE, is a documentary by Matthew Bate that tells the story of one of the first viral phenomena, that began, as most still do today, as a lark. Two small-town boys from Wisconsin, Mitch D and Eddie Lee Sausage, make their way to San Francisco in the mid-80s after college. Living in a sickly pink apartment complex they dub the “Pepto Bismol Palace,” Mitch and Eddie find themselves living next door to a pair of drunks who spend their booze-soaked nights pitching vicious, profane, homophobic rants to and fro.

 



After enduring a few nights of what today would be a reality show, Mitch and Eddie contrive a boom from a ski pole, mount an antenna on it and, before you can say “invasion of privacy,” our heroes have amassed dozens of cassettes containing hours and hours of their neighbors’ histrionics. In short order, the cassettes from party novelty to underground sensation and are duplicated, passed around, and used as source material for everything from comics to stage plays.

Bate plays the first half of the film mostly for laughs, as Mitch and Eddie recall the halcyon days of popped-up collars, skinny ties, and cassette duplicating machines. As their tapes of neighbors Ray and Peter make their way through the community of San Francisco writers, musicians, and artists, Bate recalls a free-spirited pre-digital era when bootlegs and surreptitious recordings had to be hand-carried and exchanged, and were experienced collectively.

 

http://www.tribecafilm.com/tribecafilm/Shut_Up_Little_Man_Film.html

 

But, as often happens with that which starts as a jaunt, copyright eventually rears its ugly head. As the tapes get more widely traded, Mitch and Eddie attempt to restrict the commercial use of them even as they start feeling the jab of the fireplace poker of conscience. Ray and Peter, reason Mitch and Eddie, are the ones who should be earning any dough that comes as a result of the comic books and performance pieces based on their relationship. In order for them to be paid, though, Ray and Peter must be tracked down, which Mitch finally does.

 


When that happens is when SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE is at its most effective, as the wacky drunks who were so hilarious on audiotape aren’t nearly as funny on camera, their reticence evident as they tell their stories in exchange for a six-pack from the squalor of their SRO hotel rooms.

That cocktail of prankiness and pathos is what makes SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE an engaging, if overlong, documentary. The slow morph from romp to character study is unexpected, and it provides the film a surprisingly strong spine. As Bate examines the ramifications of the way the tapes of Ray and Peter made their way as far as Australia, he makes a subtle commentary on the way file-sharing has altered the landscape of bootlegging and drained it of its innocence.

If you’re among those who fondly remember the Jerky Boys and their hilarious, profanity-strewn crank phone calls, SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE will speak to you, in a voluble and drunken fashion. But even if you’re not a fan of adolescent prankery, strap in for SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE, an offbeat documentary about a blip of late-20th-century Americana, before the Internet ruined everything.

 

 

- Chris Claro

Chris
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com

 

Look for SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE (Tribeca Film) under your cable system's Movie On Demand section.


 

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