Review: ‘The Life & Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus’

The cephalopod that became a worldwide media sensation for correctly predicting winners during the 2010 World Cup is analyzed from all angles in "The Life & Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus."

The cephalopod that became a worldwide media sensation for correctly predicting winners during the 2010 World Cup is analyzed from all angles in “The Life & Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus.” Calling on everyone from mathematicians to bookmakers and “animal communicators,” helmer Alexandre O. Philippe (“The People vs. George Lucas”) has assembled an entertaining look at the tentacled tipster’s place within celebrity culture. Prediction for this slightly overlong crowdpleaser is a long life on broadcasters and cable outlets holding World Cup rights.

Housed at Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen, the titular creature died a few months after picking eight out of eight World Cup match winners by selecting food from boxes marked with flags of competing teams. Taking a lighthearted approach without mocking anyone, Philippe creates a colorful chronicle of how an innocent stunt by Sea Life staff snowballed into a media frenzy and sales bonanza for merchandising companies. Musings on the ancient role of oracles, as well as academic analysis of the phenomenon are neatly inserted alongside amusing anecdotes, such as Paul’s personal manager, Chris Davis, remembering the mollusk as “the perfect client.” Tech package is fine.

The Life & Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus

Documentary

Production

An Exhibit A Pictures production. (International sales: Autlook Filmsales, Vienna.) Produced by Robert Muratore, Alexandre O. Philippe. Executive producer, Danielle Carbonatto. Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Robert Muratore; editors, Dave Krahling, Kim Shively; music, Shawn King, Parry Gripp; sound (stereo), Davis Coombe; second unit camera, Jeff Pointer. Reviewed on DVD, Hawaii,, Oct 18, 2012. (In Hawaii, Edinburgh, PiFan, Sheffield Documentary, Tallinn Black Nights film festivals.) Running time: 71 MIN.

With

Chris Davis, Oliver Walenciak, Gabi Barke, Rupert Adams, Janine Wilbraham, Mike Stock. (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian dialogue)

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