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Come Back To Us, Terry Zwigoff, Patron Saint Of Outsiders!

By Petr Knava | Career Assessments | July 27, 2016 |


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Well, they’ve only gone and finally done it. The maniacs have made an unnecessary sequel to one of the best comedies of the new millennium, Bad Santa.

And they’ve gone and done it with the head writer of Entourage, and without the involvement of Terry Zwigoff.

WHY?!

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Rat bastards.

That movie is as golden as Billy Bob Thornton’s foul, drunken Santa heart is rotten. And as amazingly written and performed as that movie is; as immensely quotable as it is —

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— it is thanks to Terry Zwigoff that it transcends its raunchy high concept premise and becomes something genuinely affecting. Because Terry Zwigoff, as much as he can make us laugh with the antics of his freaks and outcasts, also has an undeniable affection for the outsiders that populate his movies. So while he may show us them at their lowest point, and even at times make us question our loyalty to or understanding of them, he won’t ever tip over into mean spirited mockery — even if it may feel in the moment like that is exactly what is deserved.

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No, Terry Zwigoff — son of dairy farmers and former musician, printer, shipping clerk, and welfare office worker — might show us the darkness on the fringes of the camp light, but he doesn’t do it so that we flinch from it; no, he invites us over into it, to sit and to understand what the circle of light looks like from this perspective, away from the huddled masses facing the bright dancing flame.

To date Zwigoff has only directed five movies, the first two of which are documentaries. His short filmography runs thus: 1985’s affecting and lovely Louie Bluie, about the obscure country-blues musician, Howard ‘Louie Bluie’ Armstrong, member of ‘the last known black string band in America’; 1994’s seminal and visceral Crumb, 2001’s perfect and quietly earning Ghost World, 2003’s aforementioned Bad Santa, and 2006’s Art School Confidential — like Ghost World a Daniel Clowes adaptation, though nowhere near as well received.

That’s ten years without a Terry Zwigoff movie. That’s a decade without a journey to the edge of the campfire. We have gotten entirely too warm and comfortable. We need someone to take us back out. Where are you, Terry Zwigoff? We need you.


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Petr Knava
lives in London and plays music



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