20_years_of_madness_stillNew to VOD this week: 20 YEARS OF MADNESS

Jeremy Royce’s look at the reunion of a 1990s public access television troupe had its world premiere at Slamdance last year. Its fest circuit also included Traverse City, Cleveland, Brooklyn, Boston Underground, Portland, Cinedelphia, and San Francisco Doc, among others. Gravitas now releases the doc on VOD.

Two decades ago, a group of smalltown Michigan misfits celebrated their weirdness in the form of 30 MINUTES OF MADNESS, a fourteen-episode public television sketch series that was something of a precursor to JACKASS and Tom Green’s style of chaotic revelry. After interpersonal conflicts brought an end to not only the show, but to the friendships that made the creative collaboration possible, MADNESS’ ambitious co-creator, Jerry White Jr left for Hollywood, but struggled to make it in the business, only graduating from a film program at USC as the doc opens on the eve of his twenty year high school reunion. It’s there that he reconnects with the show’s other co-creator and erstwhile best friend, Joe Hornacek, and the two off-handedly muse about getting the old gang together to tape a final episode – since it seems no one else has left their hometown. While some of their cast is a bit worse for wear, struggling with addiction and psychological problems, they nevertheless seem game to let loose for a bit, shaking up their ordinary, middle-aged lives with a return to the follies of their youth. At the same time, neither they nor Jerry are able to avoid the selfsame pitfalls that tarnished the program in the past, threatening the possibility that the final episode might not be completed. Royce finds unexpected poignancy not only in the various players’ stories, but in the impact and import they ascribe to their long ago participation in what, from the outside, seems like a silly diversion, but which now stands as a nostalgic symbol of unrealized youthful dreams and creativity.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Recommendations, Releases

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.