(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: Two security guards have to spend the night in a cemetery protecting the grave of a rock-and-roll icon on the anniversary of the star's death. This amiable comedy was made in 1997 and won awards at film festivals but was never given a wide release. Sundance Selects has now released the film to Video on Demand. There is nothing remarkable in the plotting and not a whole lot that is unexpected, but the film entertains as it builds its characters. Robert Bella directs the script by Tom Morrissey. The best part is the frequent fan interviews on the meaning of the great Colin Fitz and really the influence of mass media on people's lives. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

[The fictional] Colin Fitz was the voice of his generation. His rock music was loved by millions of people. People who actually knew him knew he was something of a jerk, but his music is what people remember him for and in the five years since he has been dead his legend has only grown. Tomorrow will be five years since his death. Every year since he died there has been trouble in the cemetery around his grave. The fans cannot stay away. This year Colin Fitz's widow, Justice Fitz (played by Julianne Phillips), has hired a security company to guard the grave. Two guards have been picked to stay by the grave and protect it. The two guards are the mismatched pair of the meticulous Paul (Matt McGrath) and Woody- Harrelson-like Grady (Andy Fowle). Paul is new to the company and sort of highbrow. He listens to poetry on his Walkman and drinks bottled water. He tries to do everything exactly by the rules. Grady sees the night as a chance to party at time-and-a-half. He plans to buy a cache of beer and munchies and have a good time all night. As the night passes the mismatched odd-couple guards talk to each other discussing religion, celebrity, music, life, death, and the state of the world. They swap urban legends, which, of course, Grady fully believes and most of which involve the mysterious Colin Fitz. Throughout the night fans making the pilgrimage to the grave show up and make life difficult for Paul and Grady. Though the film follows a familiar route for a buddy picture, the characters are well developed.

Intercut with the main action are interviews with often-clueless fans on what Colin Fitz meant to them. The fans have an almost religious devotion to the last rock star. Stories get told about a multiple suicide of ardent fans, and there are supernatural Colin Fitz stories as well. One fan opines that if everybody got into Colin Fitz that there would be no more fighting between the Jews and the Israelis. Some fans believe he is still alive and others expect him to return from the dead. The mosaic forms a picture of Fitz reminiscent of both SWEET AND LOWDOWN and THIS IS SPINAL TAP. The supporting cast is fine and includes William H. Macy, Martha Plimpton, and John C. McGinley.

The film is underscored by constant rock music, purportedly the music of Colin Fitz. It helps to maintain the footage and is even credited to Colin Fitz in the closing credits.

Robert Bella has given us a likable film with the accent on the writing, something all too rare these days. I give COLIN FITZ LIVES! a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

COLIN FITZ LIVES! was made in 1997, but never got a general release. In 1997 it played at film festivals winning awards from the Austin Film Festival, the Long Island Film Festival, and WorldFest Houston. COLIN FITZ LIVES! is being released by Sundance Selects for Video On Demand on Comcast, Cox, Cablevision, and Time Warner where it will be available in August, 2010.

Film Credits:

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2010 Mark R. Leeper