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By Merle Bertrand | February 3, 2000

How’s this for high concept? What would you get if you crossed “The Blair Witch Project” with that trashy real-TV institution “COPS?” The answer might be “CONS,” the crudely produced Grand Jury Award Winner at No Dance Year Three. Purportedly constructed from the nine months worth of videotape recovered from the pretentiously-named Fant and his cameraman Alex Cohn after they were gunned down on a Harlem street corner, “CONS” depicts a wide assortment of heinous crimes as seen from the criminal’s perspective. In other words, it’s attempting to be an anti-“COPS;” a mirror image of that appallingly successful ode to the bottom of the human barrel. The film covers all the major crimes — murder, rape, robbery, hate crimes, auto theft, even an abortion clinic killing — in its attempt to be thorough…which is part of the problem. What would be a shrewd short subject parody wears thin after about half an hour; its repetitive shtick leaving the viewer numb with boredom. Though “CONS” successfully apes the style of “COPS,” it can’t match its parent’s intensity or authenticity, coming across about as convincing as an “Unsolved Mysteries” episode. (Not once, for instance, does a hood appear with his shirt off, which, on “COPS,” is a sure harbinger of amusingly inept criminal hijinks to come.) One gets the feeling that the No Dancers, by naming “CONS” their Grand Jury Winner, were trying to recapture the same lightning that lifted the excellent “Hands On A Hard Body” from its humble No Dance beginnings to a theatrical release. “CONS” is, after all, an extremely clever concept with a sly and catchy pun for a name and a quick, easily digestible pitch. Then again, so are most Hollywood clunkers.

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