Circus Redickuless

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Phillip Glau

REVIEWED: 03-30-98

This chronicle of a self-described punk rock circus' calamitous cross-country tour is a kissin' cousin to such mockumentaries as This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman, with one crucial distinction: It's all true! In 1995, an ambitious young huckster named Chicken John really did pack 17 quote-unquote performers into two rapidly disintegrating vans and hit the road, presenting a low-rent carnival show - one veteran of the tour christened it "Cirque du So-Lame" - in clubs, youth centers, and, hell's bells, anywhere they could (in Austin, that ended up being a trash recycling center). The result was a protracted parade of disasters every bit as hilarious as the ones cooked up for mockumentaries, but with an extra comic edge by virtue of it having actually happened. Filmmaker Glau captures the tour's implosion in riotous detail; every other frame seems to be another catastrophe - an automotive breakdown, a gig that doesn't happen, a gig that does but draws fewer than a dozen people - with the circus' Olympian ineptitude made even more hysterical by acerbic remembrances from tour survivors and Glau's own cinematic punctuation marks. It's a tale true to the troupe's name: ridiculous, a real tour de farce.

--Robert Faires

Film Vault Suggested Links
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Rock 'n' Roll High School

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