John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs (Derek Wayne Johnson, 2017) USA
Viewed at a special screening at Antioch University during SBIFF 2017.
This is a documentary about director John G. Avildsen. He directed many famous films but he himself is relatively unknown. He directed Rocky and some its sequels, Karate Kid and others.
Derek Wayne Johnson was fascinated with him as director because Johnson loved Avildsen’s iconic movies. Being a new filmmaker, he had to build trust with Avildsen. Eventually, Avildsen grew to trust Johnson and gave him access to his family home videos and many videos made during filming these iconic films.
The film is a mixture of clips, interviews with those who worked with Avildsen, home video footage plus Avildsen’s public appearances. It works well together. Especially interesting are the parade of famous folks that are interviewed about working with Avildsen like Stallone, Scorsese, Bacchio and Burt Reynolds.
There is good attempt to do a history of his life from his childhood and his father’s love of home movies and elaborate parties to his beginnings in film making. We discover that Avildsen became known as being somewhat difficult to work with and his reputation caused him to marginalized. He had a hard time getting work for a while.
This documentary was fine, especially for a new film maker but being someone who doesn’t like any of the movies he’s known for making, this was especially boring to me. I struggled with staying interested and not falling asleep.
If you are a fan of his films, then by all means, see it. But there is really no other reason to watch this film.