Disappointing comedy that follows German filmmaker Werner Herzog on his latest project, a documentary on the Loch Ness Monster. From the get-go, there's something fishy about the way the "documentary" surrounding Herzog himself is played out. Within minutes, you realize that Incident at Loch Ness is that old, dying beast, the mockumentary.
Writer/director Penn, who plays Herzog's producer on the Loch Ness film, is the one who blows the surprise. Not only because Incident at Loch Ness gets too kooky, too soon, but because, try as he might, he doesn't convince as an actual producer.
Heading into this film, I had an idea that it was all fake anyway. But I was still hoping that this movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie might have something meaningful to say – at an early point, in a talking head interview, Herzog speaks of his obsession with truth vs. fact, and how he believes cinema, an art form based on lies, at its best can deliver the "ecstatic truth", like a poem.
But this is not a Werner Herzog film. It's a Zak Penn film. And Penn, a jovial if shallow studio screenwriter who worked on potboilers like The Last Action Hero, Inspector Gadget, and Behind Enemy Lines, clearly doesn't share Herzog's Weltanschauung. His tastes are mainstream Hollywood all the way. Thus, Incident at Loch Ness never delves any deeper than its reductive producers-are-idiots premise.
Herzog is game, though, and deadpan funny. The film also features a surprisingly good turn by non-actor Michael Karnow as a nutty cryptozoologist. I mention Mike only because he lives next door to my girlfriend. Neither of us knew he was even in this movie when we went to see it, so that was our one legitimate surprise.