The American Astronaut

The American Astronaut

Wacky low-budget indie that lucked out by obtaining brief theatrical distribution in the US; writer/director/star McAbee must be on cloud nine. A black and white sci fi musical that some might describe as Eraserhead meets Flash Gordon (the old serial, not the campy '70s rehash), The American Astronaut's closest relative is actually the execrable '80s cult film The Forbidden Zone, though it's much better than that, thanks to its fantastic cinematography, McAbee's semi-catchy music hall-like tunes, and great period faces in the cast: it really does look like some 1930s B movie.

But the storyline is self-consciously "kooky" (a space cowboy, played by McAbee, has to deliver a handsome young man to the all-female planet of Venus, while eluding a mad scientist who vaporizes everybody he comes in contact with because they won't sing "Happy Birthday" to him), many limp scenes go on too long, and one gets the idea that only Cory McAbee gets most of the jokes.

At least McAbee doesn't strike me as an ordinary guy pretending to be a weirdo; he is probably really is a weirdo, only the kind of weirdo who gets his film financed and distributed thanks to the Sundance Institute. I prefer my weirdos to live under sinks and rub peanut butter in their hair. But I guess some will find this film amusing. I saw it with a couple of friends and one of them went ape over it.