728 – Local Legends (***)

Image from youtube.com

Image from youtube.com

Local Legends, a low-budget look at a musician/comedian’s life leading up to an important gig, is a lot funnier than the plot might indicate. Even more impressive, the movie is the pinnacle (to date) of the career of film impresario Matt Farley: an honest, good-natured, plausible, likeable, and personable young man who makes movies and music for the sheer fun of it, an admirable and rare character trait these days.

Narrated by Farley, the plot refers to Farley’s earlier cinematic outings, such as Freaky Farley and Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas. If you click on those links, you’ll see that I didn’t care for either one of them. But after seeing Local Legends…well, I still don’t really like them, but I can at least understand that Farley never intended for the movies to be anything but throwaway bouts of unfettered fun. In that context, his movies are a success. As Farley himself notes, his movies have almost no budget, with casts picked from Farley’s own friends and family. It’s this level of self-deprecation, sincerity, nonchalance, and the ability to not take oneself too seriously that prevent these films – and in particular, Local Legends – good, solid entertainment.

I hadn’t realized this, but as Farley explains, his films are a side venture of his other artistic venture – writing novelty songs. He’s done event-themed songs (Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday), name songs, food songs, you name it, with this unerring logic: If one song makes $2 a year via downloads, then if he writes 20,000 songs, he could have $40,000 in a year. And do you know why? Because a) people love songs with a personal touch, such as their own name, and b) people love oddball songs, such as an ode to goldfish. Lennon and McCartney have nothing on Matt Farley, when you come right down to it.

Farley plays himself here, naturally, and this immediately makes the movie much more believable than its predecessors. I recently saw another one-man-show movie called Sleepwalk with Me, and it achieved the same level of recognizability and relatability. The viewer empathizes with Matt because they understand what he’s going through. He’s a good guy with a flair for making music and movies. He’s good at taking even the dumbest criticism, and although he looks like he might be a weak-willed pushover, he’s not hesitant to stand up for himself.

One of the obstacles that Matt encounters is that of a fickle fan named Abby (Sharon Scalzo, who’s appeared in several Farley films). She’s broken up with her boyfriend. No, she hasn’t. Yes, she has. She’s pushy, overbearing, and yet necessary. Why? Because without her, Matt loses a big chunk of conflict in the movie, and Scalzo does a good job being an obnoxious pest lacking in self-awareness.

The climactic scene, the comedy gig itself, is a scream. Turns out Matt Farley is a very funny guy, with plenty of jokes and more importantly great delivery and timing. He accompanies himself on keyboards, singing songs and making people laugh. It’s an excellent moment in a well-done, fascinating semiautobiographcial tale.

Local Legends: ***

"728 - Local Legends (***)", 5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings.
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