Absolutely fabulous mockumentary that treats us to everything from a spunky lead and a great script to dazzling Vegas vistas and a guest appearance by Siegfried and Roy. Maybe it’s Christian Taylor’s dry, tentative British essence, but there’s an air of British television’s “The Office” and “Little Britain” in the excellent, inventive Showboy.
A BBC documentary team follows Christian (Taylor), a Brit abroad who’s working as a script writer on “Six Feet Under”. When Christian is fired, he’s too embarrassed to tell the documentary team and instead invents a story that he’s researching a new script about a male Vegas chorus dancer. Meanwhile, the documentarians know he’s been sacked and delight in filming his attempts at duplicity. As the adventure progresses, Christian becomes immersed in his quest to break into show dancing, and the documentarians become ever-fascinated with their fly-on-the-wall material.
Apparently, Taylor really did work as a script writer for Alan Ball, the creator of “Six Feet Under” before being sacked just as in this film. He’s even been nominated for an Academy Award, for his film school graduation short. It’s tough to work out where the lines of fact and fiction intersect in Showboy and this is part of the fun, and part of the brilliance. The emotional impact of the film is sincere - it rings true and we really feel for Christian and his every ambitious, embarrassing move. He’s so self-driven and, at times, so annoying that we don’t wonder why he’s single, but at other times he’s most endearing and his admissions of loneliness and the vague desire to find love are really affecting.
Showboy was filmed on mini-DV for around a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Siegfried and Roy paid their cast and crew overtime so a key scene could be filmed, apparently because Taylor and Heymann’s low-budget energy reminded the entertainers of their own beginnings. Showboy is really terrific.