'Big' nothing

Movie: The Last Big Thing

Our Rating: 1.00

"The Last Big Thing," by any measure, amounts to the First Worst Thing of the summer movie season. Imagine a "Saturday Night Live" sketch from the '80s -- postdated the minute it was born -- that wasn't quite funny enough to make the leap from writing conference to the actual show. Now consider the possibility that the segment, laced with postmodern ideas about art, entertainment and society, might be stretched out to a length of nearly 100 minutes.

My apologies to first-time filmmaker Dan Zukovic, but I'd rather watch "It's Pat" or "Stuart Saves His Family" than subject myself again to this piece of pretentious nonsense. When it comes to the blaming, all fingers really ought to point to Zukovic, who wrote, directed and stars in this would-be comedy, and apparently borrowed some bucks from family and friends to get it made. But will they watch the movie long enough to catch their names in the credits?

Zukovic, who resembles former Talking Heads singer David Byrne -- without the charisma, with startlingly bad hair and even more detached from reality -- is Simon Geist (zeitgeist, get it?), a 30ish fellow who has decided to attack pop culture by interviewing C-grade celebrities for The Next Big Thing, a fictitious magazine. He insults a handsome but empty-headed actor and hassles Refried Sitcom, a bad rock band whose members are obsessive collectors of mementos associated with '70s television shows.

For even more fun, Geist goes to a trendy coffee shop (a la Starbucks) and freaks out the other patrons by staring into a chrome garbage can and gazing in wonder at the distorted reflection, an image supposed to remind us of Edvard Munch's "The Scream." That scene most reminded me of an educational film -- shown in 5th grade -- warning of the dangers of LSD, quantities of which Zukovic must have taken, to bad effect. Geist also revels in sitting at the back of a comedy club and heckling the entertainer by screaming "Caw! Caw!" as loudly as he can manage.

Joining this self-appointed cultural messiah on his quest is Darla (Susan Heimbinder), a blank-faced woman, about the same age as her hero, whose father has funded his daughter's aimless lifestyle by buying the odd, platonic couple a suburban home and a car. Simon all but ditches his housemate after interviewing a model, who decides to befriend the bogus journalist and gets him a job as director of a music video featuring -- surprise -- Refried Sitcom. All of this is about as funny as a funeral.

Humor nearly saves the day near the end of "The Last Big Thing," when the tables are turned on Simon, and the arrogant artiste is revealed as a fraud, a failed model, actor and rock & roller willing to drop his agenda and be corrupted by a real career and a pretty girl at the earliest possible opportunity. His fall is documented in a 'zine published by Darla. Maybe that laughing, though, was just a nervous sigh of relief, as we watched this idiot get his comeuppance and realized that the final frame was near. Maybe novices shouldn't be allowed to purchase film stock, after all.

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