New 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.