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Overall Rating

Awesome: 27.5%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 22.5%

4 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Hands on a Hardbody
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by mincemeat

"The laying on of hands. On a truck, that is. In Texas."
4 stars

Before there was Survivor, before Chris Cooper played the orchid thief in Adaptation, there was a little documentary about a contest to win a truck.

Hands on a Hardbody somehow seems to be the genesis of reality TV: Survivor, Fear Factor, the Apprentice, even Average Joe – anything where regular folks compete for a single prize and the drama of their competition plays itself out before the cameras.

23 names are drawn from a list of hopefuls, and all the competitors need to do to win the truck is stand next to it without taking their hand off it. The longest. It will take more than 70 hours.

This is smalltown Texas, where the prize is a pickup, and people say things like “Trucks to a Texan is kinda like his hat. A cowboy hat. He’s gonna have a hat on his head. That’s what trucks are here in Texas.” More than once men reference the hunting and killing deer to describe their emotions. One competitor, bless her heart, doesn’t have a single front tooth left. Her husband, cheering her on from the sidelines, doesn’t either.

The film is virtually narrated by Benny Perkins, a competitor who’d won two years earlier. He’s got all the charisma, insight, and determination of Chris Cooper’s character John Laroche in Adaptation. And the mustache.

While Benny dominates, interviews of all the competitors are intercut with the actual competition. The competition isn’t the most compelling thing to watch – it is, after all, a bunch of people standing around a truck – but the filmmakers do a good job of breathing life into it.

As the competitors slide into delirium, the filmmakers keep their cameras rolling, getting giddy toward the end. All along, the camerawork is a bit jumpy, and sometimes the sound – which is picked up Phil Donahue-style, with a handheld interview mic – barely catches a few important quotes. But it is a documentary, and there’s only so much they can control: often they’re reduced to chasing dropouts across a parking lot, or shooting scenes under fluorescent lights at 3 in the morning.

Fans of the radio program This American Life have heard parts of this as a radio documentary, and I waited (unsuccessfully) two years for it to show up on Netflix before finding it at the local cool movie rental place. I’m so glad my wait is over.

It ain’t got fancy production values, but it ain’t got an overcoiffed, smirking host either. It’s, as Benny says, real human drama. People driving themselves to the edge of sanity so they can get a truck. Or, so that the other 22 people don’t get the truck.

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originally posted: 04/20/04 15:15:55
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User Comments

1/09/09 Shaun Wallner Well made. 4 stars
7/10/04 Mike Ely Excellent documentary with several hilarious parts. Highly recommended. 5 stars
7/07/04 Jay Atkins This is the funniest movie you'll ever see. 5 stars
3/17/03 carolyns this film makes you feel better about yourself. ive never laughted so hard. 5 stars
11/11/02 jeff Never laughed so hard 5 stars
10/30/02 Cuckoo Kitty I f*ing love this movie. It rocks. 5 stars
8/26/02 Greg This documentary completely sucks. I never thought watching T.V. could be this painful. 1 stars
1/19/01 Dick Wolf This movie was outstanding 5 stars
11/27/00 Bill Completely engrossing. 5 stars
8/15/00 Chickiepoo Hated it. What a bunch of loosers! 1 stars
12/31/99 Paul great film 5 stars
11/21/99 Dave Real people, trying for the brass ring with all their endurance - bittersweet 4 stars
6/26/99 raul rosales exelent film 5 stars
3/27/99 Julia Hilarious-don't let the fact that it's a documentary turn you off. And no, it's not a porn. 5 stars
3/27/99 cruizer it really sucked 1 stars
3/18/99 Bob What, is this a porno? I watch porn 5 stars
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  05-Feb-1999 (PG)



Directed by
  S.R. Bindler

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