Woodpecker

A birdwatchers' "Best in Show," Alex Karpovsky's mock-doc "Woodpecker" stretches its single joke to feature length, earning a beakful of yuks.

With:
With: Jon E. Hyrns, Wesley Yang.

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.

–Rob Nelson

Woodpecker

Production: A Spot Creative presentation. (International sales: Greenberg Traurig, New York.) Produced by Dia Sokol, Adam Roffman, Rick Edrich, Alex Karpovsky. Executive producers, Richard Bell, John Andres. Directed by Alex Karpovsky. Screenplay, Karpovsky, Jon E. Hyrns.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen, DV), Marshall Coles; editor, Eric Bruggemann; music, James Lavino. Reviewed at Solstice Film Festival, St. Paul, Minn., June 21, 2008. Running time: 87 MIN.

With: With: Jon E. Hyrns, Wesley Yang.

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