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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fringe 2015 review: “Best Picture”

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 3:38 PM

  • photo via RibbitRePublic
I’m sure you’ve been tempted to attend one of those cinematic smorgasbords that theaters offer around Oscar time, the ones that show all the best-picture nominees from that year in a single block. I never have, though, as I believe great films are like fine wine, meant to be sipped, not guzzled.

Following that metaphor to its clichéd conclusion, there’s Best Picture, which prompts us to “chug, chug, chug” by lampooning not just a year’s worth of films but ALL Oscar winners for best film from 1927 until today. Astonishingly, the cast fits in all 87 in one hour and proves, at least in this one hilariously entertaining instance, that more can indeed be more.

Kurt Fitzpatrick, Jon Paterson and Tara Travis tackle everything from 1927’s Wings to 2014’s Birdman – nice avian bookending – while also working in dozens of other classics such as the Star Wars films, the Indiana Jones series and even TV shows. Many obscure and non-deserving winners, particularly those from the ’30s and ’40s, may be lost on much of the audience, despite the cheat sheet handed out prior to the performance. But for those with an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema, this is a delight.

Fitzpatrick is the most naturally funny and best impersonator of this Canadian-American ensemble, with Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and mumbling Marlon Brando (The Godfather) among his stand-outs. But Travis is only a step behind thanks to her boundless energy, her appropriately creepy Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca and a dead-on Diane Keaton from Annie Hall. (The latter was so clever, I almost choked on my mashed yeast.) Paterson, too, has some nice moments, but it’s the well-researched script that is most impressive. This celluloid sandwich is so packed with ingredients, in fact, that you almost forgive the shortage of Hitchcock, Kubrick and Disney.

What’s not forgivable, though, are the accents and dialects, which are either not attempted or bungled by Fitzpatrick and Paterson. Only Travis is competent in this regard. Still, when you combine the performers’ likability, their clever ad-libbing and their knack at performing with almost no costumes or props – and complement those with the background music, which is used unobtrusively to add impact to certain scenes – this is one production that deserves two thumbs-up.

“Best Picture”
RibbitRePublic – Vancouver, Canada
Venue: Brown
Length: 60 minutes
Rating: 13 and up
Price: $11

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