Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fired!

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Yeah, she got canned by Woody Allen. OK, so it was after only three days on the job. And she claims Allen called her "retarded" after casting her in one of his plays. And ... OK, that's pretty bad. But is said firing worthy of a cottage industry?

Actor-comic Annabelle Gurwitch, whose most notable previous work was as the loopy co-host of Dinner & a Movie on TBS, has parlayed her Allen dismissal into a book, stage shows in New York and Los Angeles, and, now, this documentary film. (She milked it gloriously for blog entries, essays, NPR segments and personal appearances too.) Wow, a celebrity really is something to be.

So she's well-versed in the ins and outs of getting the boot; yet, rehashing it for more than 71 big-screen minutes is a huge stretch for Gurwitch, who wrote, produced and stars in this.

At best, Fired! makes a case for laughing at our misfortunes by having us laugh at Gurwitch's and firings of other "celebs" — comics and real people she's assembled here to share personal stories. (The "biggest" are Tim Allen and Andy Dick from a list that degenerates quickly into comics and character actors whose mugs you might recognize but can't name.)

But the laughter is good medicine. Anyone who's been unceremoniously given the door by security — with their Rolodexes, family photos, bobblehead collections and withering plants hastily boxed up — will find humor and community in the tales of others who've gotten same. Many stories are a hoot, especially the mundane ones, like the guy who got fired for wearing a clothes hanger on his head.

Gurwitch reveals a knack for uncovering the obvious, particularly when she hits the road, away from her Hollywood pals and circle of New York comics. She and directors Chris Bradley and Kyle LaBrache fall flat when attempting to dig deep into serious dismissal issues — specifically, the impact of the shrinking manufacturing industry on the psyche of a town such as Lansing and the people who've been axed by such big companies as GM.

A Michigan probe should've unearthed enough material for a documentary boxed-set, but Gurwitch walks away with a few shallow interviews at a UAW picnic that are hardly worth taking seriously. (During one otherwise earnest interview with a GM employee, MSU mascot Sparty the Spartan offers what appears to be a hackneyed version of the '80s "Running Man" dance behind them.)

Her conclusions are obvious to all but Gurwitch, who appears genuinely surprised to discover that some folks lose their jobs through no fault of their own and end up worse off, and many find that depressing, especially if they live somewhere economically depressed. No foolin'? That's about as deep and revealing as watching Gurwitch and Dick attempt to run a lunch wagon, which, incidentally, is as unfunny as it sounds.

Yes, a celebrity is really something to be.

 

Showing at the Detroit Film Theatre (inside the DIA, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-3237) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, and at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 23-24.

Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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