Saturday, June 09, 2007

Windy City Heat

The most elaborate mind-fuck I've ever seen.

Perry Caravello is an arrogant, gullible comedian/actor looking for a break. Don Barris and Tony Barbieri develop a "friendship" with him over the course of 11 years, culminating in having him cast in a fake action movie called "Windy City Heat", directed by Bobcat Goldthwait.

Everyone's in on the joke except for Perry. Perry totally believes that he's been cast as the lead in a major Hollywood action movie, beating out all these other A-list stars for the role.

The film covers the period from him being cast, to the film premiering to thunderous applause. A process of about 2-3 months.

There's no PUNK'D style reveal at the end of the film. The DVD contains video of Don and Tony trying to reveal the prank to Perry by showing him the actual movie, but he still doesn't seem to get it. Perry even records a video/audio commentary for the movie—but even there, it's not clear that he gets how he's been had...

As he watches the movie, he comments on all the action as if it really happened. He still seems to believe that he beat out all these other actors for the role. Throughout his commentary, he'll lapse into segments where he just repeats what he's saying in the film. "This is where I say this." Indeed, he seems utterly fascinated watching himself. Like a cat pawing at a mirror.

There are some skeptics who question how real this thing is, but Perry seems genuine to me. There is the lawsuit he just filed, sure—but watching the footage cinches it for me. Perry is completely delusional. He's in love with himself. He doesn't seem to understand anything that's not dangled 2 inches from his face.

Is it funny? It's sort of a BORAT paradigm. Except here, EVERYONE is Borat, and he's the one guy who doesn't get it. At one point, the homophobic Perry admits that one time, when he was just starting out in "the business", he let a guy blow him as he jerked the guy off. It's sort of a horrible revelation, but he's such a cocky, unsympathetic character, it's hard to feel bad for him.

But Don Barris and Tony Barbieri don't exactly come off well. They seem like frat boys torturing a retarded kid. Which, yes, IS funny. To a point. Beyond that, it's just fascinating to watch Perry's delusion.

Bobcat Goldthwait talks about the process here. He's actually the most understated player in this wily subterfuge. Aside from the puppet-master, Jimmy Kimmel, who shows up at the very end.

I guess this played on Comedy Central in 2003. I missed it completely. Worth Netflixing. Like yer old pal Malice just did. In this weird way, Perry Caravello comes across as the perfect poster-child for all the self-delusional naifs who try to breakthrough in the entertainment industry. A yippy lap dog who doesn't know when to quit.


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