Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Told You I Was Ill: The Life and Legacy of Spike Milligan

As you know if you're reading these entries in the order I wrote them, as opposed to the order they appear on this page, I'm in kind of a Goon Show mood. And since I just watched a movie about the life of Peter Sellers, I calculated that it would make sense to watch this documentary about the life of Spike Milligan.

It's . . . okay, I guess. There's way too much of Spike's kids and not enough of Spike himself. The daughters are the reason the movie was made, but I could have done with many fewer interviews in which they talk about why they wanted to make a movie. I do not like it when documentarians make movies about themselves instead of their alleged subjects; when his daughter tells me about her career on the stage, I do not care at all. I'm not here for you!

Besides, there are probably better people to talk about someone than his children, who weren't even alive at the time of the subject's biggest stardom, you know? From the way the movie acts, you'd think Spike Milligan's primary job was writing children's poetry, but I think that's just because that's what his daughters liked the best.

There isn't really much of a structure to the film. It's got a lot of scenes of a tribute that was organized for Spike (which I found boring, since it was mostly just people acting strenuously silly), followed by home movies or pictures (interesting at first, but significantly overdone), and the occasional bit of biography (which I liked, but they weren't really in any order and were too far apart to form a narrative).

The goal of the movie is to convince viewers that Spike Milligan was a complicated person. They should have spent more time emphasizing his comic genius, since it comes off as a story of a guy who was occasionally manic-depressive and was kind of an odd father. They're going for "disturbed genius", but they're taking the "genius" as already established and don't really do much with the "disturbed" part either. I could have done with a great deal more Michael Palin and Eddie Izzard talking about Spike, and I don't think that's all that strange.

No comments: