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Garth Method, The
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by Robert Flaxman

"Party on, Garth."
4 stars

A low-budget Australian film that resembles, but isn’t quite, a mockumentary, Gregory Pakis’ The Garth Method tells the story of Garth Petridis in his own words. Supposedly imprisoned in 2001 for kidnapping members of the public and forcing them to act in a movie featuring him, Petridis tells the story of his struggles as an actor in flashbacks, explaining the setbacks that led to his crime spree (shown in “video diary” form). The Garth Method may not be as good at selling its own legend as, say, The Blair Witch Project was, but there’s a fair amount to like whether you believe the story or not.

Most of the film is devoted to flashbacks, introduced by Garth’s video diary, that show him as an aspiring actor who never gets cast. Eventually he decides to use method techniques to hopefully better his chances. When he wants to try out for the role of a sexy, Rob Lowe-type, he heads out to clubs and attempts to pick up women. When he is attempting to get a tough-guy role, he actually goes so far as to join the army, though he is soon kicked out; later, he bulks up and, amazingly, looks a lot like a young Robert DeNiro, straight off the set of Taxi Driver. All this only goes so far, however, and eventually he feels that the only way he can make a name for himself is to become notorious.

The Garth Method’s story might have worked a little better had it been presented as straight-up narrative, rather than as a series of flashbacks – the flashbacks themselves work fine, even with the narration, but the “video diary” framing device is a bit clunky. The tale of an obsessive method actor turning to kidnapping to get himself into films isn’t a bad idea at all, but Garth’s obsession is perhaps a bit underplayed – Pakis and Petridis are too busy making him likable to make him seem crazy enough, and the video diary scenes suffer as a result. Garth never seems particularly invested in his kidnapping scheme, as if he’s only doing it because he, too, is being coerced. (Compare him to the title character in John Waters’ 2000 film Cecil B. DeMented, which covers similar ground.)

The scenes don’t lack for comedy, however, which is good, since they serve as the film’s payoff. Garth’s encounter with his first “victim” is particularly hilarious. The film as a whole seems to aim mostly for comedy (though certain aspects of the flashbacks are more downbeat), and usually succeeds where it aims. The mixture of dry humor with broad slapstick is generally effective, and Petridis is a good straight man for the wackiness of the characters around him.

There is a definite stripped-down charm about The Garth Method, relying primarily on Petridis’ charisma, Pakis’ quick-fire editing, and the occasional moments of genuine poignance, in particular a sequence where a floundering Garth discovers that his former acting rivals have gone into conventional business jobs. It wouldn’t have hurt to have brought more of the film under this heading; Garth’s method acting style is played mostly for laughs, but there’s an underlying sadness hiding in the depths that would likely have been effective if it had been able to break the surface more often. Still, this is a minor issue; the film is a comedy, after all, and too much drama would both have made Pakis’ intentions seem conflicted and threatened to squander Petridis’ comedic charm.

Though it drags a little at times, The Garth Method mostly coasts on its star’s mixture of good nature and self-aware crankiness. As a combination of a method-acting mockumentary and an earnest examination of the lives of struggling actors, the film probably focuses more on the former than it needed to, but it’s amusing enough that the lack of drama isn’t a big sticking point. The Garth Method isn’t likely to make Petridis a household name, but it’s good enough to get his career moving.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12869&reviewer=385
originally posted: 08/23/05 02:57:04
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User Comments

9/14/05 Jordan Santora Funny, witty, and orginal. A delightful surprise! 5 stars
8/27/05 James Stanley This is what most aspiring actors wish they were capable of! A great film. 5 stars
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  DVD: 23-Jun-2009


  DVD: 23-Jun-2009

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