13 May 2000 | J. Canker Huxley
An Absolutely Dreadful Film
At the beginning of the "comedy," director Jonathan Blank tells us Anarchy TV was based on a "true story" of a group of anarchist who took over a public access station. When their propaganda fell on deaf ears they went to the extremes, included getting naked on television to get noticed. What follows is an absolutely dreadful film.
I have often complained that some hollywood studios, directors, producers, and even actors will throw way too much money to try to make a wacky or embarrassing political statement with a bad movie. Anarchy TV proves that one can make a wacky or embarrassing politcal statement on a smaller budget.
The film starts off with some funny occurances with a public access station where "Anarchy TV" is run by a bunch of rich white kids. A few great scenes involve another television show called "Eat Me!" (two teenage punx tell obnoxious callers where to go) and a brief appearance by George Wendt (Norm from "Cheers") as a goofy, aging, hippie leader.
From there, this movie goes into the toliet of self-righteousnous and conspiracy mongering. In Blank's version of events, the station is purchased by an "evil" Chirstian business man who happens to be the father of one of the kids as disapproves with Anarchy TV. The show's cast takes over station where a large conspiracy is uncovered about the religious right involving profits, racism, and murder. The message falls on the deaf ears of the public until members of the cast get naked. Then, like the calvary of old Western flicks, liberally-minded groups from the Pro-Choice movement to NORML appear to save the day by picketing the studio.
At the beginning, I thought this would be a harmless parody of public access television or grass roots politics. Being that this was to be an "independent" production (as in "independent from Hollywood") I thought it may also stay away from the radical leftist view of Hollywood and look at every thing from a new edge or original angle.
This film does not attempt any of that. It comes off as a sanitizingly politically correct Scooby Doo episode with the conservative Christian villain being shown up by a bunch of meddling, if not self-righteous, conspiracy mongering, naked rich white kids. Where is the originally or edge in that?
Although this is set up as a independent or low budget movie, this should not be an excuse for the silly performances in this movie. Alan Thicke plays the villian to cartoonish proportions as do the Zappa kids. In particular, Moon Unit Zappa's performance is soooooo superheroishly cheesy, she makes Wendy, Super Marvin and Wonderdog look like members of the Royal Shakespeare Society. And no, the Zappas do not get naked in this film. That honor is left to Jessica Hecht and Jonathan Penner. Both Penner, Hecht and the rest of the casts could have been protrayed by those cheap marionettes that can be purchased from street venders in Tiujuana, Mexico (except for the nude scenes).
After watching this film, I wonder why Blank made this bad peice of fiction instead of making a charmingly disjointed documentary on the true story from which Anarchy TV is based.
With each passing minute of Anarchy TV, I wondered where the real anarchists were, who they were, and what REALLY motivated them to do what they did. More importantly, were the real people ever contacted by Blank, and if they were, was their political view of the world different from Blank's politically correct vision of a film?
If Blank's aim was to villify or praise the anarchists and their assault on the airways, why not go to the real source instead of ruining the careers of so many actors. Why not give me the real story, with real people and real political motives instead of wasting 90 minutes of my life?