Review: ‘Who Is KK Downey?’

It might be a comedy about a literary fraud, and underscored by the notoriously proclivities of the publishing world, but "Who Is KK Downey?" is the real thing.

It might be a comedy about a literary fraud, and underscored by the notoriously hype-besotted proclivities of the publishing world, but “Who Is KK Downey?” is the real thing. Feature debut of Montreal’s Kidnapper comedy troupe is a truly funny movie with a garage-sale aesthetic and willful disobedience to the narrative rulebook, but also an unruly knack for transgressive humor and creative vulgarity. B.O. prospects would be utterly dependent on creative salesmanship, but potential exists for cultish, quirky breakout.

Written by Matt Silver and helmers Pat Kiely and Darren Curtis, screenplay is based on the “real-life” story of JT LeRoy, the pseudonym of writer Laura Albert, who perpetrated the character of LeRoy through a panoply of book and movie deals and an elaborate scam involving disguises, stand-ins and the public’s appetite for the sordid.

Setup for “KK Downey” hews close to the truth (whatever that is). When the comically named Theo Huxtable (Silver) submits his novel “Truck Stop Hustler” to smarmy publisher Brett Jones (Paul Spence), the doughy white boy is practically laughed out of the office: Who wants to read a book about a lowlife that isn’t written by one?

But Theo’s pal, the resourceful if generally repugnant Terrence Permenstein (Curtis), concocts a plan: Terrence will become KK Downey, a narcotics-scorched, transgendered hustler, and claim to have authored Theo’s book. KK, of course, becomes a sensation –imagine Bob Dylan playing a streetwalker in a bad wig (the resemblance to JT LeRoy is right on) — and the Kidnapper folks prove they have the mechanics of cultural scammery down cold.

The comedy troupe also boasts cast members with distinct screen personalities: Besides Silver, and Curtis (who might someday play Steve Buscemi’s demented younger brother), the standouts include Kiely as a music journalist who’s stolen Terrence’s g.f. Sue (Kristin Adams), and who is so gleefully hateful in his unbridled egomania that he’s almost likeable — almost.

But all bets are off when Dan Haber’s Frankie Lola hits the screen. Explaining exactly who Frankie is would be telling too much, but Haber is absolutely hysterical, and he disproves the notion that punkish comedies don’t have to peter out by the last act: Frankie pushes the whole movie a step further than any viewer might expect and shifts “Who Is KK Downey?” into high gear.

Production values are appropriately haphazard.

Who Is KK Downey?



A KidnapperFilms production. Produced by Brandi-Ann Milbradt, Kieran Crilly, Pat Kiely, Darren Curtis. Executive producers, Paul Renaud, Jade Healy, David Fruchter, John Lameray, Charles D'angelo, Jon Webb, Trevoe Barnes, Katye Stevens. Directed by Pat Kiely, Darren Curtis. Screenplay, Kiely, Curtis, Matt Silver.


Camera (color, HD), Bobby Shore; editor, Jared Curtis; music, Vincent Lefebvre; sound (Dolby 5.1), Steve Gurman; associate producers, Alex Mckinnon, Isabelle Pilon, Matt Shewchuk, Dave Bitton. Reviewed at Fantasia Film Festival, Montreal, July 17, 2008. Running time: 90 MIN.


Darren Curtis, Kristin Adams, Matt Silver, Pat Kiely, Dan Haber, Paul Spence.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety