Potential one-joke affair sustains itself quite nicely in Dan Butler and co-director Phil Leiress' pic, which avoids typical mockumentary pitfalls by remaining deadpan even as its content grows increasingly absurd.

The conceit of “Karl Rove, I Love You!” is that out gay actor Dan Butler (“Frasier’s” Bulldog) decides to create a one-man show sending up the (now former) White House senior adviser– but, in true Method fashion, winds up seriously overidentifying with his role. Potential one-joke affair sustains itself quite nicely in Butler and co-director Phil Leiress’ pic, which avoids typical mockumentary pitfalls by remaining deadpan even as its content grows increasingly absurd. Further fest play could lead to niche theatrical dates and DVD release.

Initially ignorant of who Rove is — like everyone else, in a dry comment on U.S. political apathy — Butler excitedly realizes the reptilian Bush intimate is his equivalent, the ultimate “supporting player.” With Leirness’ camera documenting, the developmental process stalls until an acting coach tells Butler, “You have to see the world through his eyes.” Thesp takes that advice to extremes that eventually prompt an intervention by worried friends, then vault into conspiracy-theory terrain. Complete with convincing Rove impersonator (among the few here not playing themselves), credibly quasi-verite pic drolly mocks liberal Hollywood insularity at least as much as it mocks right-wing D.C.

Karl Rove, I Love You!

Production

Produced by Dan Butler. Executive producers, Phil Leirness, Julia Miranda. Directed by Dan Butler, Phil Leirness. Screenplay, Butler, Julia Miranda, from a story idea by Butler.

Crew

Camera (color, DV/mini-DV-to-DigiBeta), Leirness; editor, Kevin Hibbard; music, Greg Debelles. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, March 5, 2008. (In Cinequest Film Festival, San Jose -- Special Presentations; also in 2007 Denver Film Festival.) Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Dan Butler, Phil Leirness, Julia Miranda, John Hoffman, Alex Cruz, Kira Tiramacco, Richard Waterhouse, Jeff Briggs.

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