“Hi My Name is Ryan” is one of those character studies that is as much a portrait of eccentricity as it could be a portent of great things to come. Nothing too heavy, the documentary is all about a young artist on the fringe of the downtown Phoenix art scene, Ryan Avery.
Ryan is from the Max Fischer school of artistic overachieving. He’s an active member of 6-7 bands, acts in the local theater troupe, puts on his own one-act shows at performance spaces and is, overall, that guy who is very rarely understood, but also doesn’t give much of a f**k either way.
Adorned in various helmets, t-shirts far too tight for his portly frame and/or fake mustaches, Ryan often finds himself in the position of being too out there for even other artists, particularly a man by the name of Wayne Michael Reich, who finds Ryan’s various noise band performances to be not only un-professional, but also talent-less. This leads to some hypocritical hilarity, as serious artist Wayne is juxtaposed with a more fun-loving Ryan, embodying the anarchic spirit of the fringe artist while Wayne does his best elitist prick impersonation. To Wayne’s credit, he does make a few valid points about respect between artists and perfecting your craft that makes hearing his perspective important.
Ryan’s fun-loving nature is infectious, and a reminder of a time when you just did what made you feel good without caring ultimately what other people thought. Personally, I think that time ended midway through middle school for me (damn you, hormones!), but the beauty of this doc is that, well… you can still have that outlook if you want it. You have to make more of an active effort, but it is possible.
I’m not going to say anything more about the film, mainly because the final few minutes involve as much a left turn on the documentary audience as 90% of his artistic endeavors appear to those who have seen his adventures in person. This is not a bad thing at all. Things don’t go the route you’re expecting, but not in a sinister way… in case you were worried… hugs?
“Hi My Name is Ryan” is a fun watch and, again, a unique character study. As far as documentaries go, it definitely falls in with the more relaxed fare of the medium (and in some ways, could even slide in as a more cheerful variant of the misunderstood musician / artist documentary) and is worth your time, simply for its ability to remind you that the world can, and should be, a fun place to live in. You just have to make an effort.