The Great Movie Ever Rolled is neither the documentary Doug Benson fans will really want, or the one Doug Benson deserves, but it is a funny, charmingly sloppy look at how the comedian spends much of his time. Capturing the day-to-day slog of traveling, performing in comedy clubs, traveling more, doing morning shows, traveling even more, and generally fucking about on the road, the film from Ryan Polito was built from only a couple weeks of shooting while Benson toured with pal and fellow stand-up Graham Elwood.
Benson has become a crossover icon in the film and comedy worlds as his podcast Doug Loves Movies has become a staple for movie nerds and stand-up fans alike, with its hybrid format that pulls high quality actors, directors and comedians together to shoot the shit about movies and play trivia games. It’s a successful show by which Benson has spread awareness of his own brand of pot-adled comedy and cultivated a huge network of cool people to work with. You see only the barest glimpses of this though, as the doc focuses pretty much on the traveling and comedy shows. The mileage you get out of this doc will be based entirely on how much you enjoy Benson and Elwood’s humor, as that’s the beating heart of this bare bones flick.
This film is a loose follow up to Benson’s Super High Me, which has become an Instant Watch hit and used Morgan Spurlock’s McDoc as inspiration for a 30-day marijuana abstention experiment. That doc too gave a good look at what it was like to be a mid-level stand up on a day-to-day basis, and Greatest Movie pretty much follows that course, except without a gimmick to drive it. Doug smokes a lot of pot, is funny, travels: that’s what you’re getting here. It’s mentioned that Benson is again riffing on Spurlock (specifically his recent Greatest Movie Ever Sold) by funding the movie with the money he makes from touring to make the movie about the tour that he went on to make the money ad infinitum, but that’s more a joke to start out the film rather than anything that actually drives a story. At this point Benson has no problem selling out shows, so it’s more about hanging out with people and smoking after the show, riffing with Ellwood in the car, and pulling pranks on morning shows.
The film is not a pretty one having been shot on DSLRs and GoPros in airports, rental cars, under-lit bars and parking lots, so it has a very rough, patched-together charm that effectively broadcasts the ambition level from the start. At this point it’s just these guys getting off the couch and making some dough- not an introspective work on what it means to be a comedian and run a podcasting mini-empire. It’s an elaborate video podcast and, frankly, that’s appropriate enough for what amounts to another Instant Watch library title that people will enjoy casually. That said, the film could benefit from distribution that will get it in front of crowds as Benson’s following will surely fill up a decent run of theaters, and the crowd experience is a blast, baked or not.
I would imagine a lot of fans (including myself) would love to see the doc that really captures the feel of Doug Loves Movies, tracks Benson’s interesting development as a popular stand-up, and digs deeper into what makes Benson’s fan base tick, etc. etc., but that’s just not what this is. As much as I would love to see a Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop of the podcasting world, that film has simply not yet manifested. Maybe someday someone will put together something about Benson, Maron, Hardwick and the rest to dig into the awesome new paradigm that these guys are blazing trails within, but for now just rolling one up and giggling at Woot monkeys will have to suffice. And it does.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars