By Calum Marsh
By Michelle Orange
By Michael Atkinson
By Simon Abrams
By Zachary Wigon
By Aaron Hillis
By Casey Burchby
By Stephanie Zacharek
When indie film guru John Piersonof Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes fametemporarily moved his wife and teenage son and daughter to a remote Fijian isle so he could operate its rural 180 Meridian Cinema, he convinced his old pal Steve James (Hoop Dreams) to visit for a month and document the culture clash. Unfortunately, what could have been a superficially amusing IFC reality series was stretched into a thin, overlong feature that follows the rocky integration of this very New York clan into a somewhat ruffled island society. In the quest for narrative conflict, the Piersons are portrayed at their worst. John becomes a Manhattan-style control freak with an underlying missionary complex and its concomitant condescending attitude. His kidsparadoxically the film's saving grace and its most grating elementare shrill, persistent back-talkers, born a decade too early, sadly, for Nanny 911, but adept at yanking dad's chain. ("Independent films are boring," opines the vociferous Wyatt, age 13.) The Fijians play shy sidekicks, talking-head commentators, or foils to John's type-A outbursts. The irony is that this doc could have used the sociological insights of a Spike Lee or the intelligent, region-specific pacing of a Richard Linklater, both Pierson alums; what it got instead was the underachieving pop-damage befitting its producer, Kevin Smith, topped off with a movie nerd title that could have been stolen from the moniker of a D-level film festival.
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