The best-laid plans…as they say. We all have those moments of brilliance in life. An idea sparks and we have to act on it. Your instincts tell you, “how can this possibly go wrong?” Famous last words, right?
Molly Dworsky and Dave Newberg’s The Ringmaster is one of the most meta documentaries within a documentary that I’ve ever seen. The original documentary was supposed to be a pilot television show called American Food Legends, created by Zachary Capp, who had successfully turned his life around after rehab and received a substantial inheritance to fund the show.
Zach’s first subject is Larry Lang, the proprietor of Michael’s Steakhouse in Minnesota, who made the best onion rings in America (as verified by the Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post) and was a source of nostalgia for Zach growing up. The idea was simple and appeared to be a good one because popular shows like this already existed (e.g., Drive-Ins, Diners, and Dives on the Food Network).
“…Larry Lang of Michael’s Steakhouse…who made the best onion rings in America…”
The main problem with Capp’s documentary was the main subject, Larry Lang. He was a simple mid-western man, living a simple mid-western life. In other words, he was uninteresting, answered questions with only one word or long pauses to reflect with ultimately no answer. It was clear that Larry was a loyal member of the community, loved his customers, and was an all-around nice man. But Larry was shy and awkward on camera…not star material.
"…sweet and tragic."