The indie comedy is a rare and fickle beast. What is funny to you and your buddies is seldom funny to anybody else, and while comedies don’t need to be expensive to be effective, amateurishness can sink a comedy faster than the titanic. So it is a wonderful treat when a film actually manages to exceed expectations, like the Montreal shot and set “Who is KK Downey?”
Terrance (Darren Curtis) is a hipster doofus who is so obsessed with being famous that he fails to notice that his band, The Black Guts, sucks. He still pines over his girlfriend Sue (Kirstin Adams), even though she’s dating a pretentious music critic named Conor (Pat Kiely) with bad hair and even worse clothes. Terrance’s best friend Theo Huxtable (Matt Silver) – no, not that Theo Huxtable – dreams of being a writer, but he is quickly informed that what would be his magnum opus, Truck Stop Hustler, is unpublishable. Apparently people don’t want to read dirty smut written by spoiled white suburbanites. And so, driven to extremes by yet another one night stand with Scary Mary (Claire Brosseau), a.k.a. the cum receptacle, Terrance hatches a plan to make both he and Theo famous and make all of their hipster dreams come true.
Loosely based on the JT Leroy literary scandal, “KK Downey…” is fun, fast, fresh and loud. It’s a film that’s not afraid to be nasty, but is actually driven by a super tight script, spot on comedic performances and is so fun to watch that the minuscule budget never even becomes noticeable. The film is both a reflection of a localized scene (Montreal’s Mile End neighborhood) and a clever satire on the larger hipster phenomenon, but at its heart it’s also a balls out screwball comedy, completely with the requisite chase at the end. It is filled with hilarious characters that handled with less care would be purely despicable caricatures, but the acting is uniformly strong enough that we manage to have some sympathy for these losers.
Touching, hilarious and vulgar, “Who is KK Downey?” is what most indie comedies aspire to be. The fact that it actually delivers is a testament to the talent of Kidnapper Films, the collective that produced it. The film is also full of clever and surprising gags, like a writer so pretentious that he actually masturbates to a picture of Voltaire, to an artist who works in anthropomorphism to give souls to inanimate objects, which basically means she glues googly eyes on everything from toasters to plastic hot-dogs. And while the film does start to lose steam by the third act, solid acting and excellent camera work keep things going right up to the final, bitter end.
Sure to be scooping up yet another audience award at a film festival near you, “Who is KK Downey?” is an auspicious debut feature of deeply funny talent.