Seeing cult “followers” voluntarily “buried” in pink inflatable coffins or emerging through a giant vagina down a slide into a swimming pool are just two of the outrageous scenes in this satiric film. This satiric mockumentary about shooting a documentary to expose fake cults is clever, funny and laced with hilarious celebrity cameos.
Shot with a huge pre-pandemic cast on the Woodland Hills estate that once belonged to Frank Sinatra, Writer/Director Ivo Raza and lead actor/producer, David Lipper, take aim at the world of cults. They do it through the well-worn technique used by Sacha Baron Cohen’s for Borat and for This is Spinal Tap. With sharp editing and the distinctive documentary look of the hand-held, swish pan camera, the doc-within-a-doc style works for Reboot Camp as well. With limited time and resources, Cinematographer Derrick Cohan takes gives the film a bigger look with wide and overhead drone shots of the camp’s activities. The music interspersed with the chanting of the group nicely uses this genre’s tools as the plot develops.
Lipper plays Seymour, who recently found himself completely broke due to his wife’s lavish spending. She also ran off to join a cult. For revenge and to make money, Seymour and his struggling younger brother/filmmaker Danny (Keli Price) concoct a scheme. They create a fake cult, attract followers, film it all, partially undercover, and then blow the cover to expose how they were so easily duped by the grifters. Seymour and Danny don’t want to take money from the people they attract. They expect their documentary to be a big financial hit. It’s a great ruse that Lipper and Price handle well.
Every cult needs a special leader and Seymour transforms into Gordon St. Pierre, the famous French Canadian life-style guru no one’s ever heard of. Lipper, as Seymour, speaks with a grating accent that would make any Québecois cringe. He grew up in Montreal, so he comes by the accent rightly. It fits perfectly with his Birkenstocks, low-waisted, long wrap around skirt and a button down shirt that doesn’t quite hide his beer gut. Gordon St. Pierre presents himself ready to capture the minds and hearts of his followers. That’s exactly what happens. Seymour and Danny find they’re too good at creating their alternate universe. Followers flock to the camp. They totally buy the hype!
An unlikely comedy team is made right on camera when veteran actor, David Koechner, and rapper Ja Rule go off on an epic profane tirade at the urging of Gordon. Ivo Raza and David Lipper told us in our interview that they only had Koechner and Ja Rule for a few hours and weren’t written into the script. The crescendo of energy and verbal filth they deliver surprised not only us, but Lipper and the crew as well!
Besides the usual suspects of self absorbed, needy, desperate Southern Californians, Raza and Lipper sprinkle in some familiar faces taking some very funny and over-the-top turns on camera. Ed Begley Jr. sees through the sham, but dutifully listens to his believer/wife and keeps playing along. Lipper says Begley, Jr. is the master of the mockumentary genre having been in Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and more.
Chaz Bono gets his moment of “rebirth” swathed in copious yards of plastic wrap. Eric Roberts and his wife get with the program. The director even slips in a side trip to ridicule a greedy Televangelist who pleads for donations to buy his own airplane you can see every day on TV. That’s how good satire works.
Raza builds in conflict when the brothers begin to see their mission through different lenses. Danny is still out to make a film uncovering the fake promises of “peace, love and light” while Seymour has fallen under the spell of Claire (Maya Stojan), sent in by her weird uncle, the backer of the film, to manage the budget. She goes all in and decides the Guru is good for business and opportunities abound. Seymour begins believing he is who he pretends to be. Which version of Seymour will prevail? The good guy or the Guru.
And while you’re watching, why not bypass the popcorn and enjoy watching with Gordon St. Pierre’s favorite snack; a big, cheesy bowl of Poutine.
Despite the predictable final act, Reboot Camp deserves its place on the list of entertaining, well-crafted mockumentaries packed with fun cameos. This is one camp trip you shouldn’t pass up.
Freestyle Digital Media 1 Hour 31 Minutes Not Rated
Streaming On Demand
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