You have to give him credit for trying.
Mere minutes into the first episode of the Chris Miller show, Miller shrugs at the video camera, rolls his eyes, and states that he only made $9,000 last year. He needs to buy a new camera, and can’t afford it. His computer is old and slow, and keeps crashing on him.
He’s his own cameraman (he throws on a dirty undershirt, hard hat, and bad teeth when he has to appear on camera in character). He didn’t go to film school. He doesn’t really know how to draw or animate. His free web hosting yanked all his content, which means he lost most of his advertising. Oh – and his camera is incompatible with his computer, which means that most of the animation in his show is pixilated.
This he casually blows off with a derisive “whatever.”
It’s at this point in the review that I suppose I’m supposed to say something like:
“But none of it matters, because he’s extraordinarily funny!”
“Luckily his lack of equipment doesn’t get in the way of his mad genius.”
“But the great thing is, his creativity knows no bounds.”
But no, this definitely warrants a:
“You have to give him credit for trying.”
The essential problem of the show is that it doesn’t have any sort of a strong through line. By his own admission, Miller doesn’t really know what he’s doing, but he wants to get his work out to the public. As such, he’s put these shows together as something of a clips collection, with random bits of him talking between the animation and short films.
The talking would make more sense if he was trying to discuss what was coming up, or using it as a sort of video journal to chronicle how he’s getting his work out there. He does a little of this in the first show, talking about how poor his equipment is, then later rejoicing when he buys a camera battery, which means he can actually pick his camera up and carry it around instead of needing an outlet.
The problem with both of these segments is that they go on for far, far too long and after a while prove to be both unenlightening and unfunny. The fact that he’s so self-depreciating about it would even be endearing if he was an obviously talented guy in search of a creative outlet.
Unfortunately, his work is, for the most part, uninteresting and/or bizarre. Take, for example, his poem about a chicken who wins the lottery. The chicken decides it doesn’t need the money, since its spaceship doesn’t require gas, and instead gives the money to a sandwich that is later crushed by a rock.
Or the short film about what he does at work, which appears to be putting on rubber gloves and playing with a meat cleaver.
In the longest segment of either of the episodes, the “cameraman” (played by Chris) runs off with the camera, and makes a movie about little green army men being attacked by a mechanical duck that breathes fire. This section isn’t even animated – it’s just Chris doing voices for little green army men in a cemetery, being manipulated by Chris’s own hands. It’s not unlike watching a home movie made by a local six-year-old.
There’s a joke in the second show that the episode requires three gallons worth of Fuzzy Navels to be funny, and maybe that’s true. Perhaps in a certain headspace the shoddy animation and off-the-wall free-form monologues work, or are funny or entertaining more often than once every ten or fifteen minutes. But in the end, I somehow doubt even three gallons would be enough.
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