Saturday, 23 June 2018

The Clapper (3 Stars)

This film has two interwoven plots. It's a love story and a social commentary on the emptiness of television.

Eddie Krumble works in Los Angeles as a contract actor for infomercials. He's paid to sit in the audience and applaud when products are described. He gets a bonus payment if he stands up and asks a question about the product. A scripted question, of course. The whole infomercial industry is built around lies and false promises. In the film's first infomercial the presenter promises that people can buy luxurious homes with an acre of land without a down payment, and Eddie asks his question. Later Eddie sees the presenter outside the studio and asks him if he could really buy a house like that for himself. The presenter gets angry and tells Eddie he's only doing his job, and if Eddie doesn't leave him alone he'll hit him.

The audiences are all hired actors, but Eddie is over-used. A talk show host recognises Eddie's frequent appearances and starts a city-wide hunt to find the mysterious Clapper.

Billboards are posted all over the city calling on people to identify the Clapper so he can be invited on the show. Eddie goes underground. His job as an infomercial audience member is all he has, and he has to remain anonymous. The whole point of his job is to look like a random man off the street.

The love interest in his life is Judy, a girl who works a gas station, saving money so she can move to Mexico and get a job looking after sick animals. I thought people wanted to move in the opposite direction. I hope Donald Trump's wall won't keep her out.

Eddie is a simple man who enjoys simple pleasures. When he takes Judy out on a date they eat a hamburger. Does he really eat that many fries?

The film has some good ideas, but I don't consider it to be well made. The back story about Eddie's wife having died of cancer is unnecessary. It's intended to show that he has suffering in his life that means he's not as shallow as the person he portrays in the audience, but it's an unwelcome distraction.

The film's best feature is the opening credits sequence, in which Eddie is shown walking to work against a cartoon background. He's a real man in a shallow, two-dimensional world. This is very effective. Even before the film itself started I knew what the film's message would be.

Those are beautiful images, aren't they? Unfortunately, the film doesn't live up to its promise. I wasn't able to sympathise with Eddie and his plight. Usually I enjoy Amanda Seyfried as an actress, but her awkwardness as Judy was over-played and unrealistic. Most of all, the film wasn't funny enough. I think it would have been better if the humour had been cut altogether, making it a serious social commentary.

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