Popovich (Gregory Popovich) is a street performer on the odd sideroads of Las Vegas, competing with the likes of Space Mime and the Samurai Elvises. Beyond his talents as a first-class entertainer, he also has a big heart, caring for a large number of stray dogs and cats at his junkyard abode. Unfortunately, his kindness to animals isn’t appreciated by his neighbor, who rats him out to the city as operating a shelter without the necessary permits or paperwork.
Filing the paperwork and acquiring the right certifications costs money, however, and Popovich isn’t really financially sound. Still, with the possibility of losing his animal friends if he can’t raise the money, Popovich strikes out into the mean streets of Las Vegas, looking for a job, some money and more than a little bit of luck.
Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West is a charming film with its heart on its sleeve, hearkening back to more classical cinematic tastes. The first ten minutes of the film work like a silent film, as Popovich performs and goes about his daily routine of taking care of himself and his animal compatriots.
The narrative itself reminds you of something you might see on The Little Rascals, only here Popovich is trying to save his animals and not, say, his clubhouse. The humor can slapstick and broad, and even elements of danger and drama are wrapped in unique whimsy. I was as much thinking of The Three Stooges as I was Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, even while acknowledging the modern aesthetic of the filmmakers. All that said, the film maintains a subtlety that these comparisons might not suggest; it’s an odd gentleness of heart and charm.
Overall, Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West is a wonderfully fun experience. Not necessarily for the cynical, as the film benefits from those who are open to its more whimsical nature, but it is entertaining regardless of what you think of the narrative. Popovich is just that talented a performer, and his routines are just that enjoyable to watch. Between this and Thor at the Bus Stop, filmmakers Mike and Jerry Thompson continue to impress.
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