Looking for a truly odd movie? Especially if you’re a Disney fan? Well, there’s Carla Forte’s dramatic feature, Maniac Miki (Miki Maniaco). But be warned, I am still trying to wrap my head around it.
Miki (Carlos Antonio León) is a washed-up actor recently laid-off after a long run on the show Miki and Friends. He’s currently shacking up with his girlfriend and co-star Mimi (Lola Amores) on his boat docked alongside a river. The film splits its time between Miki’s life of isolation on his ship and an interview with an entertainment outlet looking to do a “Where are They Now” profile on the old show. The interview includes their friend, DonalT (Chaz Mena), and stories of Miki’s dog, Pluton, who recently ran away. Do you see where we’re going with this?
Before you think Maniac Miki is a true sendup of the Walt Disney Company, know that it sort of is, but not really. Its only link to Disney is that the story takes place in Florida, and the character names are derivations of Disney’s Fabulous Five. The connection is incredibly loose but funny when mentioned. Right from the start, Miki likens himself to a mouse — a mere shell of a man.
“Miki is a washed-up actor recently laid-off after a long run on the show Miki and Friends.”
Maniac Miki is about the fleeting pursuit of fame and the desperation that takes over when it’s taken away. For decades, Miki entertained children and lived in the spotlight. He’s angry, bitter, fat, broke, and impatiently waiting for a severance check, which is not coming. He spends his time doing coke and drinking excessively. Miki also has a persistent cough that he refuses to acknowledge.
The story is broken up into vignettes revealing Miki’s life spiral. An early scene opens with Mimi incensed that Miki called her a “w***e” after having sex. It’s here we discover the toxic relationship between these two longtime lovers. On deck, Miki interacts with his blind mailman, who idolized him as a child. The film then picks up its energy with the appearance of American-born theater actor, DonalT. His Spanish is so cringing that it’s brilliant.
Maniac Miki is not for everyone, and expectations must be managed. The film is a series of conversations, primarily between Miki and Mimi. The “chapters” are broken up with E! news-style interviews. Miki tries to maintain his public persona and grasps at the feelings of fame he’s lost. Still, he quickly lapses into gaining sympathy as a victim of an abusive system that manufactures stars and casts them aside when they are no longer of value.
For a film that predominantly talks, much of the depth in its story is told through emotion. We gain each character’s perspective of business and fame in their own clouded and biased viewpoint and the mental state that led them to be fired, and the sad lives they now lead as has-beens. I’m not a fan of films that wax on philosophically about the human condition, and thankfully Maniac Miki never goes there. These are broken people attempting to claw their way back to the top.
For information about Maniac Miki, visit writer/director Carla Forte’s official website.
"…quickly lapses into gaining sympathy as a victim of an abusive system..."