Danny Plotnick’s shot on Super 8 and almost feature length “rock” movie I’m Not Fascinating, now celebrating an HD restoration after being out in the ether for 20 years, probably should’ve / almost could’ve been a SOV (shot on video) cult slap dash. It remains a slap dash of a film probably held together with scotch tape, but perhaps on a more analog format like VHS, it would’ve reached a “bigger” audience. Then again, this is a story of a band past and not yet of its time – kinda operating outside of the universe, actually – so maybe the issue isn’t with format, and maybe it’s not an issue for the band at all. At least, not the original iteration. This has less than lo-fi filmmaking aesthetic at its most dirty looking and feeling which, for this fan of Trash Humpers, is most welcome.
The Icky Boyfriends, the band at the center of I’m Not Fascinating (a title taken from one of their songs), is made up of a 90s trio (not Gin Blossoms style), living the bum rock lifestyle in San Francisco. They get no respect from anyone, including “fans”, music shops or even concert promoters. Their music is transgressive / self deprecating punk, taken to a near satirical of genre level with noise too out of rhythm to be liked but too loud for anyone to really care deeply about. They try and try, but to no avail; once someone hears their name, that’s it. Minds have been made up before they take the stage.
The mantra of this movie is Zappa’s “Strictly Commercial”, as it satirizes and even exposes the neither ideal nor glamorous ends of the spectrum of success in the music business. Of course, I’m Not Fascinating isn’t too hung up on the ills of the industry. In fact, it’s not too hung up on anything. Without resolution or end (at least not in the traditional sense), it presents a tragicomedy of cartoonish yet realistically occurring scenarios that repeat ad nauseam. There are goofs, there are song breaks and there is a breakfast sequence where Pepsi is drunk out of a cantaloupe. These guys are naive oddballs, struggling yet kind of content, willing to sign a piece of paper without looking at the fine print.
“… an articulate sense of humor, through their music.”
It’s a story that’s been told many times over, but never quite so… Icky. Never quite so… grainy. And, for a punk comedy, never quite so… unlikely. After all is said and done, The Icky Boyfriends just end up trashed and out of the loop. They were never our heroes or even relatable protagonists, but to boldly crap on themselves AND to be boldly crapped on by others is worthy of both acclaim and derision. If one were to compare this trio of self haters to another band, Limp Bizkit would jump up first. The rap metal combination of white male “angst” and terrible lyricism, while not overt, is awful and awfully down itself as well (perhaps more so). The main difference here, though, is that The Icky Boyfriends, at the very least, have an articulate sense of humor, through their music and this film. They’re all too silly to be taken as the death of music like Fred Durst.
I’m Not Fascinating gets in and gets out with enough funny to not leave regret in its wake. Truly, it’s a treasure of the unwashed handshake variety. A gem of sorts, and thankfully short, it ranks (no smelly pun intended) with other films that too have been physically stepped on and crinkled up. It wouldn’t be punk if it didn’t feel this way.
I’m Not Fascinating (1996, 2016 re-release): Director: Danny Plotnick / Stars: Anthony Bedard, Shea Bond, Chris Enright, Jonathan Swift, Claudia Vlasak & Ray Wilcox.
3 out of 5