Reflections

SXSW 2000 Film Festival and Conference

DROPPING OUT

Dir: Mark Osborne; Scr/Cast: Kent Osborne; Prod: Neil Machlis, Michelle Imperato-Stabile, Steve Kalafer; Exec Prod: Daniel M. Stillman; DP: Brian Capener; Ed: Kris Cole; Music: Jack Pendarvis; Cast: Adam Arkin, Vince Vieluf, David Koechner, Katey Sagal, John Stamos

35mm, 109 min., 1999 (RP)

Dropping Out has all the satirical verve of The Simpsons but little of its disciplined narrative structure. When Emile (Kent Osborne) decides that his mundane existence is worth doing away with, he asks Henry, his co-worker at the Valley View Motel, where he is the night custodian, to send a videotape of his suicide to a girl he once dated for two weeks. But when Henry stops by to retrieve the tape, Emile is still alive, having recorded his last thoughts, which are really quite funny and begin to attract the attention of the studios. Soon enough, Emile and his merry band of friends are making a large-scale production out of his eventual suicide, and before his film (Goodbye Good Friend: The Story of Emile Brockton) has even been completed, Emile becomes the kind of celebrity the filmmakers love to hate: sudden, deluded, and mostly useless. He no longer wants to die, but the success of his film depends on his final farewell. Dropping Out, scripted by Kent Osborne and directed by his brother Mark Osborne, is inventive and layered with brilliance, but could have been more resonant if the Osborne brothers had been content to merely tell their sardonic tale without all the narrative loops and excessive hurdles they throw themselves.

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