A birdwatchers' "Best in Show," Alex Karpovsky's mock-doc "Woodpecker" stretches its single joke to feature length, earning a beakful of yuks.
A birdwatchers’ “Best in Show,” Alex Karpovsky’s mock-doc “Woodpecker” stretches its single joke — an oddball poet-birder scours an Arkansas bayou for the ivory-billed variety of the titular feathered friend — to feature length, earning a beakful of yuks. Co-written by lead actor Jon E. Hyrns, whose Bill Murray-esque deadpan nut paints his skull bright red in a bid to land his quarry, “Woodpecker” soars above the bulk of low-budget Amerindie farces, if not above the director’s earlier “The Hole Story,” now a minor cult fave on DVD. A rare bird himself, Karpovsky remains one to watch.
In bogus interviews with an Arkansas mayor, sheriff, and pastor, the latter claims that the apparent return of the ivory-billed woodpecker after six decades is the answer to a dying town’s prayers. But satire mainly trails Hyrns’ v.o., following his character Johnny and silent partner Wes (Wesley Yang) through a picaresque bayou they vow not to leave until they find the “ghost bird,” which is faintly visible at the edge of a frame, inspected by purported experts as if it were Zapruder’s. Though soundtrack’s loud instrumentals are suitably parodic, film’s tone is gentle as a birdsong.