The idea of ‘Get rich or die trying’ certainly applies to Stephen Groo.
The Utah man has written, directed and acted in over 200 low-budget commercial flops. The Insufferable Groo is a documentary that examines this difficult filmmaker’s life in glorious Technicolor.
To call Groo an eccentric is an understatement. The 40-year-old hasn’t had a steady job in over 12 years. He lives with his wife and four children in her parent’s apartment rent-free. The family live hand-to-mouth thanks to her monthly $1,000 pay-check. Despite this, Groo is unflinching in his self-belief about his film-making talent.
This documentary uses clips from Groo’s extensive archive as well as new interviews. These are woven together to provide a rich and colourful portrait of the subject. This story has some parallels with Tommy Wiseau’s one; except that the latter has achieved cult status.
The cameos in this film include Jack Black and Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess. They both agree to appear in Groo’s latest project, a remake of his 2004 fantasy drama. The Unexpected Race is about a romance between a human and an elf. These scenes offer moments of real levity and joy and are a welcome change. This documentary is a fly-on-the-wall one that straddles the lines between human interest and voyeuristic exploitation, so sometimes it is difficult to comprehend how one should feel about the proceedings.
The Insufferable Groo is an intriguing documentary about one man’s dogged pursuit of his dreams. This independent filmmaker auteur is a character you will simultaneously love and loathe. Groo has a tireless work ethic, is enthusiastic and articulate but he is also tyrannical and incredibly difficult. Groo may be one hard taskmaster but this breezy little documentary is the antithesis of this. The Insufferable Groo is one interesting and easy watch, which is more than you can say about Groo’s own work.
This review was originally published at: http://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/the-insufferable-groo-sydney-underground-film-festival-review-20180904