‘Just About Famous’
Directed By Matt Mamula and Jason Kovacsev
In the opening scene of the short doc “Just About Famous,” a man tells the story of being mistaken for Robert Deniro while trying to enjoy his breakfast in a local diner. It takes the length of the story for the viewer to determine whether the man talking into the camera is actually Deniro or not. He’s got the hair, the mole, the squinty eyes, the facial expressions and the speech pattern. This 14 and a half documentary, playing at the Dallas International Film Festival today and tomorrow is freaky, funny and festive.
The audience will have a hard time taking their eyes off Obama, Palin, Bush, and Clinton impersonators who gather each year at the Sunburst Convention of Professional Tribute Artists (aka: Celebrity Impersonators) in Orlando. The mere gawker effect is enough to keep the audience engaged, and makes the lack of any sort of story arch perfectly acceptable. As an audience, we are content just to get a little insight into who these people are, how they first realized they looked like someone famous and what their thoughts are on whether they’re all a bunch of crazies.
The Elvis tribute artist is, of course, the least impressive since somewhere along the way being an Elvis impersonator became a rather mainstream profession. The Britney Spears look-alike is pushing it, and the man who dresses as Dame Edna has to go through quite the make-up, wig, and clothing transformation before taking on his character. But there are some impersonators that are probably never able to rest from being a celebrity “tribute artist.” The Oprah look-alike is uncanny to put it mildly, as is the faux Woopy Goldberg and the Jay Leno.
Directors Matt Mamula and Jason Kovacsev keep the editing dynamic, the pacing upbeat and the music (think Mexican Hat Dance), just corny and lively enough. The film is playing today, Sun, Apr 3rd 7:30pm in the Angelika Film Center (#7) and Mon, Apr 4th 9:45pm in the Angelika Film Center (#8). It will also be playing in the Cleveland Film Festival, Phoenix Film Festival, Kansas City FilmFest and Nashville Film Festival.
– Alice Gray