5-Word 365 #329 – American Movie

There is no earthly reason for me not having seen this flick before now.

American Movie

The Mark and Mike Show

Officially a documentary following the making of the movie Northwestern, this is actually so much more. It is a portrait of the American dream in action. Mark Borchardt is a thirty-year-old paperboy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is also the writer, producer, director and star of Northwestern. Beset by problems on all sides, from an incompetent production staff to a total absence of funds, Mark decides to complete his short horror film Coven in order to raise the money for his dream project. With his best friend Mike in tow, Mark sets out to become the professional filmmaker he always wanted to be.

If there is a “making of” doc out there that is more uplifting and bittersweet than American Movie, I will eat my hat. In fact I will eat all of my hats. With chips. Mark Borchardt is a true one-of-a-kind character, endlessly optimistic and absolutely hopeless at the same time. If he didn’t exist, you couldn’t make him up. Watching him struggle over two years to produce a forty-minute black and white horror film is strangely inspiring. Besides Mark, the star of the show is Mike Schank.

Rush’s biggest fan, Mr Mike Schank.

A recovering alcoholic whose AA sponsor takes him to buy lottery tickets on the way to their Gamblers Anonymous meetings, Mike is also a surprisingly talented guitarist who is responsible for the film’s score – including such self-penned ditties as The Remains of Children’s Brains. These two together are just pure comedy gold. I could watch The Mark and Mike Show all day.

Future Oscar winners. Guaranteed.

For anyone who has ever wanted to make a movie, you owe it to yourself to watch American Movie.


  1. mistylayne · November 25, 2012

    Oh wow, I watched this eons ago – I remember it being hilarious but kind of long too.

    • Ryan McNeely · November 26, 2012

      It is one of the funniest documentaries I ever saw. It’s not crazy long though; only 100 minutes or so.

      • mistylayne · November 26, 2012

        Oh. I remember it feeling like a million years long…

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

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