Runs at Varsity, Fri., Dec. 7 through Thurs., Dec. 13. Not rated. 84 minutes.
There's no problem with the premise of lionizing an eccentric D-list actor such as Charles Nelson Reilly through an 84-minute documentary. But The Life of Reilly isn't really a documentary. Rather, it's a largely unfunny piece of lazy, self-indulgent filmmaking—relying almost exclusively on Reilly's one-man stage show, Save It for the Stage, to tell his life story. While Reilly is occasionally amusing through sheer weirdness, there are more laughs in Alec Baldwin's five-minute Reilly SNL imitation ("scrumtrulescent!") than in this entire "film." Ignoring his pop-culture fame (notably TV's Match Game), he mostly discusses the minute details of his hard-to-swallow upbringing, in which he narrowly escaped a deadly circus fire, his aunt was lobotomized, his father was carted off in a straitjacket after turning down a promotion personally offered to him by Walt Disney, and monkeys flew out of his ass. The most poignant moments of the film come toward the end, when Reilly discusses his deep friendship with Burt Reynolds. And yes, when a film's most poignant moments involve heartfelt discussions of Burt Reynolds, that's a major problem.