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Cinemalphabet: K is for The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)

November 5, 2012

If you have ever wanted to spend an hour or so listening to a legendary studio head mumble about himself have I got a docufilm for you! Based on the best selling tell-all memoir of the same name, the documentary begs the question, “would shadow puppets have been more compelling?”

The irony of the film is the Robert Evans of legend would never have greenlit such a shoddy looking piece of cinema. The life of Robert Evans is big and showy and glamorous, befitting of a splashy big budget Hollywood film. You know, the kind he used to produce. Instead rubberneckers are treated to visually confusing mess, that distracts more than it aids the narrative. This is Robert Evans for corn’s sake; the story doesn’t need a lot of embellishment. I wanted to like the style of filmmaking but found it to be a tad to precious for the subject. Especially knowing what a crash and burn story being told. Having said all that I do think the film is valuable for other reasons.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I am assuming you children actually know who Robert Evans is! Well, he was lovingly sent up by his good friend Dustin Hoffman in the film WAG THE DOG and right here at the end of The Kid Stays in the Picture More importantly, Evans embodies the bubbly hot tubby goodness of 70s filmmaking and the films are some of cinema’s finest. We’re talking The Godfather, Chinatown and to a lesser degree…Love Story. The film which is part cinema history and part cautionary tale is fascinating and unflinching. There is no glossing over the reversals of fortune or the terrible events that would later define his legacy.

If you read the book, the film offers nothing new, but hearing these stories in Evans’ own words has an impact the book didn’t really have for me.

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