DocFest 2012: Day 1 – The Standbys

One sign of a good documentary is, can it make me care about a subject I would otherwise not be interested in.  Another sign of a good documentary is, does it make me feel as though I didn’t waste my time as the closing credits are scrolling.  The Standbys could do neither of those.  Before I express my gripes about this movie though, I’ll tell you what it’s about.

There are so many talented performers in the world who share that dream of making it big on Broadway.  The cold hard fact is that not everyone will get to be in the spotlight and hold that coveted lead actor role.  This movie follows 3 talented actors who are reaching for such a dream, and their experiences in being standbys, i.e., understudy to the stars.  Now for my gripes…

My two gripes with this movie, which were two too many, are these:

1. Aside from quickly glossed-over descriptions of what an understudy does each day at work, there was very little actual footage showing this.  It confirmed what little I already knew about the life of an understudy (which, being that I am not one, was little to begin with), and offered nothing even slightly thought provoking or interesting regarding their profession.

2. The paint-by-numbers way in which it was shot seem to serve only one purpose – to perpetuate the myth that documentaries are the film industry’s youngest and most ignored child, who is constantly fighting to be recognized as one of the big kids (in case you couldn’t guess, I have a little case of youngest child syndrome).

In case you were wondering, I could have easily gave this movie 1 star, but went with 2 stars because it mostly took place in my home city (NYC).  Lame reason, I know.  But, nevertheless.

Only one movie again tomorrow for day 2.  Lets hope it gets better.

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