Kung-Fu Elliot

Chris Smith’s American Movie (1999) inaugurated a subgenre of comic documentaries about talentless would-be artists, the filmmakers hedging their bets by painting their subjects alternately as laughable losers and as dogged dreamers. This Canadian documentary begins like an addition to the cycle, following Elliot Scott, a 30-ish amateur filmmaker, as he embarks on his latest no-budget actioner. Scott believes he can become the next Chuck Norris, and he’s indulged by his idiot friends and long-suffering girlfriend (a levelheaded preschool teacher who should know better). As his production derails, however, the tone grows dark and revelations about Scott render him thoroughly unsympathetic. Directors Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau withhold key information until the third act, forcing one to reevaluate everything that came before, but by then you may already have grown tired of the cheap laughs.