On paper, the idea of a Michael Moore-like documentary about two young wannabe filmmakers pitching a script to various celebs at the Toronto Film Festival sounds like a hoot. And it is --- for roughly half an hour. Then "Pitch" starts to overstay its welcome, with pitchers Spencer Rice and Kenny Hotz beginning to irritate rather than amuse. In essence, pic is a good 15 -minute TV comedy sketch needlessly stretched to feature length. Effort will probably elicit some interest on the fest circuit, but this is one pitch that is unlikely to win over many theatrical distribs.

On paper, the idea of a Michael Moore-like documentary about two young wannabe filmmakers pitching a script to various celebs at the Toronto Film Festival sounds like a hoot. And it is — for roughly half an hour. Then “Pitch” starts to overstay its welcome, with pitchers Spencer Rice and Kenny Hotz beginning to irritate rather than amuse. In essence, pic is a good 15 -minute TV comedy sketch needlessly stretched to feature length. Effort will probably elicit some interest on the fest circuit, but this is one pitch that is unlikely to win over many theatrical distribs.

Rice and Hotz are first seen working the phones from home, calling agents and talent scouts cold, trying to sell them on their script, “The Dawn,” a comedy about a Mafia don who goes in for a hernia operation and comes out at the other end of a sex change. Not surprisingly, folks like Alec Baldwin’s agent are not overly thrilled by the goofy-sounding project .

So the intrepid directors head to the Toronto Film Festival, 1996 edition, where they harangue and cajole a number of well-known film types, notably critic Roger Ebert, Canuck helmer Norman Jewison, Al Pacino and Eric Stoltz. The filmmakers appear increasingly desperate as the hunt continues, with Rice morosely complaining at one point that Hotz isn’t pitching the project with sufficient pizazz.

They then decide they have to go for broke and head to Hollywood, where they snare another batch of famous bigscreen folks, including Arthur Hiller and scribe Neil Simon, who both try to give them some helpful advice. Pic ends with the duo hooking up with an agent who is actually hot for the script, but the deal soon falls apart.

The Toronto section is often quite funny. Inspired comic moments include their pitch to Jewison at a crowded press conference, and grabbing Stoltz on his way from his limo to a black-tie event. But the L.A. scenes lack the manic charge of the earlier footage, and, by the end, Rice and Hotz create an almost suffocating presence that throws a wet towel on the comic potential of the material.

Ideally, a faux docu like this could shed some light on the inner workings of the film biz for non-industryites, but one of the intrinsic problems here is that it’s never made clear whether the script they’re pitching is a joke or a genuine feature script.

Christopher J. Romeike shot the pic entirely with natural lighting and in classic cinema verite style, while the soundtrack features a slew of bouncy surf-guitar-flavored tracks from, among others, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet.

Pitch

(CANADIAN - DOCU)

Production

A Hotz-Rice Prods. production. (International sales: Gotham Entertainment Group, New York.) Produced by Raymond Massey. Executive producer, Fitzroy E. Clarke. Co-producer, Kate Brooks. Directed, written by Spencer Rice, Kenny Hotz.

Crew

Camera (color), Christopher J. Romeike; editor, Daniel Sadler; music, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Smokeshow, King Cobb Steelie, Ken Skinner and the Jazzmongers, Phono-comb; sound , Bissa Scekic. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival, Sept. 5, 1997. Running time: 81 MIN.
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