If there's one thing I learned between watching "Me @ the Zoo" and "Andrew Bird: Fever Year" at the Milwaukee Film Festival, it's that being famous isn't all it's cracked up to be. Between the profane, fickle pack of hyenas known as YouTube commenters and the tiring and unhealthy marathon that is touring, I'm going to stick to my relatively safe movie critic status.
The only good side of becoming famous, it seems, is that one becomes good fodder for solid documentaries. And the money, of course, but I'd argue that being the subject of an entertaining documentary, like "Me @ the Zoo" or "Andrew Bird: Fever Year" is a bit more satisfying. I'm weird that way.
Through several years of archived video footage (most of which was shot by Crocker himself), "Me @ the Zoo" tells the story of Chris Crocker's rise and fall from Internet fame. In case the name doesn't ring a bell, the now 24-year-old's stardom reached its most meme-worthy heights in 2007 when he stood in front of a sheet and tearfully yelled at the world to "leave Britney alone." The video earned himself a place next to LonelyGirl15 and the Numa Numa Guy as one of YouTube's most famous self-made celebrities, as well as one of the most hated.
Directors Chris Moukarbel and Valerie Veatch use archival footage from YouTube and Crocker's personal videos for much of the film. In fact, the filmmakers' only real input besides editing for 75 percent of the movie is via some voiceover and a few shots of modern day Crocker in a forest or watching fireworks. As a result, "Me @ the Zoo" doesn't get entirely under Crocker's skin or into the evolution of YouTube from a modest video sharing site into one of the most influential websites in the world.
So it's not the most in-depth documentary, but Moukarbel and Veatch do find some interesting insights, such as a fleeting look into YouTube's partner system and Crocker's failed trip to Hollywood. For the most part, they come especially near the end when the filmmakers follows modern-day Crocker â€“ his blond locks replaced by short black hair â€“ as he evolves into a more business-savvy version of his former self and tries to help his drug addict mother.
"Me @ the Zoo" makes its best point right at the end, as Crocker and his family watch the 2009 Balloon Boy saga play out on CNN. The news went from reporting on the Internet's memes to creating them on their own. My, how the world changes, and it hasn't even been a decade.
One thing doesn't change over the course of Andrew Bird's busy year in "Fever Year": he's always sick. It seems the title of this concert doc, a part of the festival's new Sound Vision category, is more literal than one would expect, as director Xan Aranda follows the sweaty, fever-stricken singer/songwriter through his 165-show tour in 2009.
Milwaukeeans will be tickled to see the featured concert of "Fever Year" was shot at The Pabst Theater, and music fans in general can enjoy Bird's soulful, violin-heavy folk. Aranda isn't particularly innovative with the camera â€“ the film's one fancy trick is a split-screen â€“ but the concert footage is enjoyable to watch, and the music is beautiful. Fellow hipster folk artist St. Vincent also joins him for an angelic duet.
The rest of film follows Bird as he discusses his evolution as a performer and musician, as well as his feelings on being sick throughout the entire tour (surprise: he's not a fan). For Andrew Bird's fanatics, this will all be fascinating; for anyone else, it's at worst just interesting. Unlike this year's LCD Soundsystem doc, the concert itself doesn't feel like much of a must-see event either, but I suppose hearing some lovely tunes by an affable performer is an event in its own right.
Me @ the Zoo has one more showing Oct. 4 at 4:30 p.m. at the Fox Bay Cinema.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published July 21, 2016
Boston and Styx may not be the first things that come to mind when you think of Italian culture and heritage. But what Bostyx lacks in Italian cred, they hope to make up for in rocking classic tunes at their Festa Italiana set this weekend.
Published July 20, 2016
2016 tragically claimed yet another entertainment giant Tuesday, as television and film writer-producer-director Garry Marshall passed away in Burbank, Calif., at the age of 81, from complications of pneumonia following a stroke.
Published July 19, 2016
Deadline Hollywood reported this morning that Netflix ordered another season of the now Emmy-nominated docu-series and that it is currently in production under the watch of returning executive producer/director tandem Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos.
Published July 14, 2016
Before he comes to The Pabst Theater on Monday night, we chatted with legendary film director John Carpenter about his new tour, his new music, his newfound critical appreciation and the new "Halloween" movie he'll help bring to life.
Published July 12, 2016
"The Secret Life of Pets" sounds so much like it was cribbed from Pixar's notes, it's hard to believe Pixar didn't make it first - until you replace "pets" with "toys" and realize they did. Considering the fluffy 90-minute result, though, you likely won't mind.
Published July 11, 2016
Did you have a good weekend? Yes? Well, Milwaukeean and Adele fan Kathleen Dohearty's was better, as she got to join the crooning pop star on stage for a duet of "Someone Like You" last night in Chicago.
Published July 10, 2016
Upon first glance, there wouldn't seem to be much common ground between Saturday night's co-headliners Weezer and Panic! At the Disco. And after Saturday night ... yeah, there wasn't much. But that doesn't mean they didn't put on a heck of a show.
Published July 9, 2016
From country to rock to blues to ... a Nick Jonas/The Weeknd mash-up (?), Elle King's Summerfest set was full of zigging when you expected it to zag. Yet through it all, with King leading the charge, it all worked and totally made sense.
Published July 7, 2016
What was once Vic and Gab is now Reyna - and they'll be playing the Miller Lite Oasis on Saturday at 7 p.m. Before then, however, OnMilwaukee caught up with the sister act to look back at the old band and look ahead to the new one.
Published July 7, 2016
X Ambassadors predictably and deservedly graduated to a larger Summerfest stage - from the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage to the Miller Lite Oasis - and a larger headliner time slot this year. Now they just need a larger set list, and they'll really be set.