A Regular Frankie Fan

A Regular Frankie Fan clearly defines its central thesis, that the elaborate audience-as-performer rituals surrounding the 1975 cult musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show are popular because they give social outcasts a home of their own. Unfortunately, the documentary doesn't have much else to say. Writer-director Scott Mabbutt captured dozens of Rocky Horror audience members and live-show performers on digital video discussing their Rocky experiences, but most of the interviews seem to come down to the same handful of banal opinions: Rocky is sexy, Rocky is fun, Rocky lets self-proclaimed weirdoes of all shapes and stripes be themselves and still fit in. Meanwhile, the actual footage—complete with erratic and sometimes unpleasantly harsh sound, as well as distorted and sometimes unpleasantly dim or glarey visuals—seems to have been chosen and assembled by a random-number generator. The documentary jumps around from theater to theater, covering the same ground over and over, focusing on the acres of jiggling bare flesh, fishnet stockings, and sequin-strewn teddies, and attempting to vary the proceedings mostly by including irrelevant stories whose only relationship to Mabbutt's subject is that the storytellers like the movie. (One of the most glaringly pointless and obnoxious involves a Rocky fan who brags about his tradition of tossing his complimentary Bible out into the hall whenever he stays at a hotel. Later, he claims to have not only assaulted a geriatric security guard who tried to return the room's Bible, but also sued the hotel for religious discrimination.) Mabbutt didn't have permission to show actual Rocky footage, and doesn't touch on the history of the film or its fandom; apart from references to his own Rocky-performing days on the DVD version's commentary track, and a few mentions of the film's 25th anniversary, he concentrates on the present, and most specifically on endless tedious footage of live-show performers painting their faces, bragging about their costumes, and cavorting about on stage. A Regular Frankie Fan (whose title is taken from one of the several Rocky songs harshly covered for Frankie's soundtrack) does succeed at putting timid viewers in the moment and on the stage among the far-less-timid performers. But it doesn't have anything to say about Rocky that couldn't just as easily be said about science-fiction conventions, Goth bars, independent acting troupes, or any other insular subculture whose members don masks or makeup to briefly reveal their true faces.

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