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FDL Movie Night: The Great Intervention

A dysfunctional slob.

His “friends” call him a loser, his pot dealer has been selling him oregano from the onset, and everyone hates his music. Worried that their oldest son will never amount to a hill of beans (the name of Moramarco’s band that actually had a top ten college radio hit in 1990), his parents stage an intervention. They want him to be happy by their standards, to have a functional relationship and to have a steady income.

That’s the premise of The Great Intervention, actor/musician/director Steve Moramarco’s low-budget, super-indie, semi-fictional film made for $5,000 and funded through Kickstarter (full disclosure–I donated $23 to the cause). The film begins with the arrival of a camera crew hired by his mom from Craigslist to document how out of control Moramarco’s lifestyle really is and how his choices have destroyed him.

Dismissive club bookers, irritated DJs, disturbed ex-girlfriends–along with Moramarco’s grooty home–paint a tale of woe and of Steve’s broken dreams. Whether Segwaying naked through the streets with a guitar, or hang-doggedly accepting the berating of Johnny Angel Wendell after a failed gig, Moramarco shows how the dedication to his musical dreams and the artist’s life are the prime force in his life. Too bad his devotion to the muse hasn’t paid off, but still he soldiers on, convinced that he is talented and lovable and will eventually find success–until the intervention happens and he agrees to take the 12-Step Personality Cleanse from psychotherapist Dr. Amber Thorne whose books include Change Your Underwear, Change Your Life and If You Don’t Stop Farting, You’ll Always Be Alone.

As the documentary crew follows him–sometimes manipulating the action in true reality show fashion–Moramarco sees his life change and then go horribly wrong. Complete with a fake tan and hair transplant, he goes off on a date with his high school girlfriend who has accepted his friend request on Facebook.

Within the film are subtle jokes running alongside broad humor: Logos are blurred (including the Canadian maple leaf), names of people are bleeped out, including those ex-girlfriends who have “declined” to be interviewed. Showing off for the camera, Johnny Angel Wendell sings “I’m a Hollywood Asshole and I’m Full of Shit,” while Moramarco’s “best friend” Paul exposes his own seduction secrets and the collection of trophy panties left behind by conquests. Self-help guru Dr. Thorne wallows in narcissism run rampant. One of Steve’s ex-girlfriend promotes her own career while his high school sweetheart is a nutcase who does turtle rescue and invents stories about how her husband died as the camera reveals wedding photos with his face scratched out. (Her children go along with mom’s stories because her therapist says they should humor her). All the while, the documentary crew lies (“We can remove this digitally” is least of their whoppers) as they record every foible and failure before and after the intervention, and exposing Steve’s naif, distorted point of view towards his past and present.

The Great Intervention (greatly) expands on Moramarco’s own life, featuring his real friends and family, along with music and videos from his bands. The film is in and of itself a calling for Moramarco’s talent, his own self-intervention. Within its comic constraints and satirical storytelling, The Great Intervention raises questions about the choices faced by artists and others who choose an alternative lifestyle, those who don’t fit into mainstream 9-5 jobs. Should their slacker lifestyles be called to task? Is it unreasonable to expect a grown man to clean up after himself and get out of bed before noon if he doesn’t have a real job? Do we have to live a square-john life to be happy? Should friends and family be accepting of what they perceive as an out-of-control state of perpetual childhood?

The Great Intervention premiers September 26 in Los Angeles before hitting the festival rounds.

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.