Whatever happened to the fine art of whistling? That’s a question filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner start off asking in their fun documentary titled “Pucker Up.” As a way to answer the question, we’re given a little schooling in whistling and whatever became of one of the most primary musical abilities everyone possesses. There truly is something calming and nostalgic about a really great tune being whistled and the film gets in depth with the history and science of whistling.
Cut to the 31st Annual National Whistling Competition where we meet five diverse whistlers heading to North Carolina to see who will become the champ. One is a chain-smoking Dutch social worker who is flying to America to compete. The other (somewhat less interesting) characters are a turkey hauler, a wealthy investment banker, a semi-retired pro whistler and an entertainer.
“Pucker Up” is inherently funny and entertaining simply due to its subject matter. These people take their whistling very seriously. One might say much too seriously. However, I never really found myself rooting for anyone in particular. I’m not sure you can really get too involved with these people and their lives as was done in “Spellbound,” but once the hilarity of grown men and women doing their whistling routine wore off, I was really only waiting around to see who won.
That’s not to say “Pucker Up” isn’t a hoot, it is. I almost had to physically restrain myself from the urge to whistle throughout the film. This is another great case of a fun and interesting documentary being made about people who are passionate about something a majority of us might find silly. I just wanted to get behind someone and feel the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat as my favorite whistler won or lost. I will say the final scene in the film is hysterical as, due to the results of the competition, a new and unwitting celebrity is born.