“Speak”

A moderately involving, conventionally structured look at the art of public speaking as practiced by nine finalists at the Toastmasters' 2008 world championship, "Speak" has surprisingly little to say about its subject.

A moderately involving, conventionally structured look at the art of public speaking as practiced by nine finalists at the Toastmasters’ 2008 world championship, “Speak” has surprisingly little to say about its subject. Paul Galichia and Brian Weidling’s polished docu follows a now-familiar pattern, presenting brief, sometimes moving snapshots of a handful of contestants, but offers scant insight into the actual skills and mechanics a professional orator must master. Following a brief theatrical run, the pic should do well as a smallscreen item.

After a quick segment on people’s general aversion to public speaking, with commentary from various Toastmasters officials as well as news anchor Chris Matthews, the docu starts mechanically lining up its subjects. Of these, the two most compelling are God-fearing single mom LaShunda Rundles and stressed-out family man Rich Hopkins, both of whom have turned their serious medical setbacks into the stuff of eloquent, impassioned storytelling. Yet their monologues, as presented in brief snippets, are reduced to platitudinous soundbites; an unbroken recording of all nine competing speeches would have revealed more about these gifted speakers, their preparation methods and the specific criteria by which they’re judged.

Speak

Documentary

Production

A Tumbleweed Entertainment presentation. Produced by Paul Galichia, Brian Weidling. Executive producer, Michael Maloy. Directed by Paul Galichia, Brian Weidling.

Crew

Camera (color), Weidling, Galichia, Matthew Talesfore, Hunter Mossman, Ryan Larew, Andy Schwartz, Charles Burnley, David Lyman, Chris Henze; editors, Brian Weidling, Chris Ross Leong; music, Philip White; music supervisor, Joseph Rudge; sound, Robert Heskin. Reviewed on DVD, Pasadena, Calif., Aug. 14, 2012. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Ann Hastings, Chris Matthews, Caite Upton, John Daly, Brian Collins, Tammy Miller, Vikas Jinghram, Darren LaCroix, Robert MacKenzie, Martin Presse, Katherine Morrison, Henry Flowers, Colin William, Rich Hopkins, Kristi Hopkins, Charlie Wilson, Caroline Wilson, LaShunda Rundles, Sonya Rundles, Susan Milledge, Richard Kim, Jock Elliott, David Brooks, Loghandran Krishnasami, Mark Brown, Gary Schmidt, Chad Tate.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more