13 March 2004 | NJtoTX
Surviving Eden just made a surprise appearance at the South By Southwest film festival, and it is a terrific, hilarious indictment of modern-day reality TV and the 15-minute celebrities it creates and spits out (William Hung, are you listening?). The audience really delivered the cheers at the end credits.
Writer/director Greg Pritican has taken the absurd mockumentary styles of Woody Allen's "Take the Money and Run," mixed in an homage to Peter Sellers films, notably "Being There" and the Clouseau/Cato dynamic - and created a film that is outrageous, funny, and important as well.
Michael Panes stars as Dennis, a clumsy, obese loser brought up in a white-trash environment by obese mom Conchata Ferrell. Dennis is entered into a reality-TV 'Eden' competition by his best buddy, Sterno, played masterfully by Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent). Pritican has a family member who works on "Survival," so there is definitely a good-natured zing being delivered here as the contestents are tossed from Eden.
Jane Lynch shines as a tell-it-like-it-is co-executive producer with a nose for coke, Savannah Haske is a nun as you've never known, and SNL's Cheri Oteri is terrific as a take-no-prisoners hanger-on.
And there is the humor of how Dennis' fame affects the lifestyles of those close to him, such as his pet pig.
The film as presented in the festival was still unfinished, and some great music choices may not make the final cut. I recommend you see it as soon as it comes out. The big screen will help - there are many comic touches in every frame that should be taken in.