Wizard’s Way (**)
Running Time: 76 minutes
Directed By: Metal Man
Starring: Socrates Adams-Florou, Kristian Scott, Joe Hartley,Chris Killen and Sadie Frost
(Belfast Film Festival Event, QFT Belfast, 14/04/2013)
FAUX documentaries are a difficult comedy vehicle to get right, the likes of This Is Spinal Tap and Borat are often cited as great comedic successes, but viewers only need look at Sacha Boran Cohen’s other attempt at a mockmentary, Bruno to see they offer no guarantee for comedic gold.
Wizard’s Way plays out like a mockumentary for the Peep Show generation, heavily inspired by nineties TV shows like Adam and Joe and The Comic Strip Presents. At its heart there is a solid comedic concept, rife for parody and satire.
Two cocky young filmmakers aiming to make the greatest documentary ever about two strange individuals who have spent most of their lives playing a fictional online role-playing game called Wizards Way. Knowing that the game’s servers are about to be turned off, the filmmakers hope to capture on-screen the two men’s attempt at adjusting to life away from their computer screens and reintegration back into the real world.
Julian nicknamed ‘windows’ has become a legend in the fictional MMORPG, as his friend Barry proclaims: ‘He’s the Michael Jackson of Wizards Way, but alive.” Spending most of his evenings and weekends playing the computer game, the closing of the games servers comes as a massive blow to his daily schedule he finds it harder than his friend Barry to fill the void in his life, left by the game’s absence.
Despite the comedic premise, the film’s execution is sadly lacking, quickly running out of steam and more importantly laughs. The first 15-20 minutes are great, as viewers are first introduced to Barry and Julian living in their small Manchester bedsit. The duo have a wonderfully odd existence, in particular Barry, who lives in a bathroom, using the bath for his bed.
Everything soon becomes a tad repetitive and tedious, as gags are stretched out at nauseam. The moment Sadie Frost appears onscreen masquerading as a ‘elite escort’ I could feel myself finally losing patience and interest with the feature. As her character says: ‘This isn’t funny, it’s gone on too far” and how right she is.
Personally I could have seen this concept working better as short 15-20 minute film and not the full-blown feature that it is. There’s some clear comedic talent on display and hopefully all involved go on to bigger and better things from here. By no means is it a disaster, just more of a somewhat underwhelming misfire.