This bungled documentary on outsider music legend Larry “Wild Man” Fischer mistakes exploitation for empathy in chronicling the travails of the schizophrenic singer brought to semi-fame in the late ’60s by Frank Zappa. Employing a number of the manipulative techniques Jonathan Caouette used in Tarnation, director Josh Rubin shows us Fischer’s paranoid rants replete with ominous music and shifty editing (at one point, jumbled audio fragments are juxtaposed against the image of Larry cowering under his bedsheets). The film’s insensitivity is only compounded by its lack of insight into Fischer or his music. Larry is crazy and pure and will never find mainstream success—the interviews pound us over the head as if this were news, or interesting. Wild Man Fischer’s music is disarmingly honest and heartfelt, but even its charms can’t save Derailroaded from ending up a train wreck.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 25, 2005