THE INDEPENDENT

directed by Stephen Kessler with Jerry Stiller and Janeane Garofalo opens May 3 at Varsity

B-MOVIE producer Morty Fineman (Jerry Stiller) is a

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Trash

Schlock, yes, but educational!

THE INDEPENDENT

directed by Stephen Kessler with Jerry Stiller and Janeane Garofalo opens May 3 at Varsity

B-MOVIE producer Morty Fineman (Jerry Stiller) is a cross between Russ Meyer and Ralph Nader. Thus, in a clip from his 1971 The Eco-Angels—filmed in "Eco-Vision"—one can enjoy the T&A of scantily clad, bosomy biker chicks who preach environmentalism while practicing bloody vigilante justice on litterbugs and gas-guzzlers. It sounds a lot funnier than it is; the outtakes from Morty's 427-film oeuvre are the best thing about this otherwise atrocious showbiz mockumentary, which aims for Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman but ends up like An Evening at the Improv.

Aided by his long-suffering prot駩 (Max Perlich) and intermittently estranged daughter (Janeane Garofalo), Morty flees bankers and creditors while seeking to realize his latest message movie, a right-to-die opus titled Ms. Kevorkian featuring—you guessed it—a bosomy, gun-toting nurse. Snippets of this and other Fineman efforts are marginally amusing with their period decor, erratic exposures, corny costumes, and stilted dialogue, but there's too much faux-documentary filler between.

Don't expect much redemption from all the cameos, which include Stiller's son, Ben, and wife, Anne Meara, plus testimonials to Morty's supposed influence from various real-life Hollywood figures, such as Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich, and Karen Black. (Surprisingly, Howard plays along most gamely; perhaps there's more to Opie than meets the eye.)

The film's laughs come chiefly from its final credit crawl of Morty's 427 titles, like Amateur Faces of Death, Boy Eats Girl, Priapism Diary, The Peace Zombies, Pull My Finger, Jazzercide, RoboHomo—sadly, space does not permit a full recitation. See www.finemanfilms.com instead; it's a rare case of the Web site being better than the movie it's flogging.

bmiller@seattleweekly.com

 
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