Thursday, April 26, 2012

REVIEW: "Francophrenia (Or Don't Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is)" Fun for GENERAL HOSPITAL Fans

A scene captured in the film. Photo by Jim Warren
Damon L. Jacobs and I had a ball on June 22, 2010 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), the night GENERAL HOSPITAL went on location for "Francophrenia," equal parts soap opera taping, performance art, and a movie shoot. We danced, we spent time with James Franco and we chatted with fans.

Nearly two years later we finally saw the film, Francophrenia (Or Don't Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is), on Wednesday as part of the Tribeca Film Festival. My biggest fear going to the theater was that the film would set up soap fans to be mocked in some way. I'm happy to report that the movie does not do that. But what is it about?

James Franco turned-over countless hours of film to director Ian Olds, whose job was to turn the footage into a documentary.

Ultimately, it didn't end up as a documentary.

Instead, it's a somewhat interesting take on the mind of Franco, an A-list movie actor guest starring on a daytime soap opera--playing a crazed artist named Franco (same name).

Olds does a voice over throughout as James Franco's inner voice and thoughts. Usually, when we see the actor, we hear Olds' voice. It usually pretty funny, although at times a bit obnoxious. But it was all intended (I think) to be humor so I doubt any offense will be taken. An example: GH Director Owen Renfroe walks over to James and touches this shoulder and we hear Franco's inner voice saying, "Don't touch me."  But Franco's Lips don't move.  Outwardly, he appears amiable.

Eventually Franco is on top of MoCA wondering what's going on around him. "What am I doing here?" he asks himself. He finds solace in the onlooking soap fans.

If you are a fan of GH and you were there that night, there's a good chance you will show up in the film, even if it's a passing camera shot. My "moment" in the film came when Franco walked over to greet us. He asked where I was from and I coolly replied, "New York."

At one point reporter Sara Bibel asks Franco about the "love story" between his character and Jason Morgan (Steve Burton). We get plenty of Jason in the film and a large number of characters are seen, not only the ones at MoCA.

As we see James dealing with the events of the busy GH shoot, we see actual scenes from the show interspersed throughout, most of which have an AIDAN 5-esque effect applied.

In case the film's audience might be getting sick of all this James Franco, and his inner voice, the male and female icons outside the men's bathroom start talking (in his head, anyway). They are quite sassy, mocking James, calling him crazy and accusing him of being intoxicated. On paper it may seem like a gimmicky add-on to make the film more tolerable but, quite honestly, their banter was the most enjoyable part of the movie.

Near the end we see Franco joking around with then-GH executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps.  The two of them will work together again this summer on HOLLYWOOD HEIGHTS.  THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS exec producer/head writer Maria Bell also joins them.  She just happens to also be the co-chair of the MoCA Board.

Francophrenia only ran 68 minutes but there were at least three times I thought the movie was going to end, and it would have been well-served to do so. It's really hard to judge this one because I was there and was actually seen in the film. That gave me an extra bit of interest to want to see it. I'm not sure a non-GENERAL HOSPITAL or James Franco fan will completely enjoy it, but perhaps their experience would be a more true critique.

If you've seen the movie, let us know what you think!

- SOAP at MoCA: GENERAL HOSPITAL Meets Performance Art

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