Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns

"Very Good"

Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns Review


Do It Yourself is more than a modern colloquialism to describe the practice of rebellion that makes independent-minded artists popular in a certain gritty sector of consumers. It now even has an affectionate and all-too-common acronym, DIY, used in synopsis across the entertainment industry, be it film or music. But the reality is that once a filmmaker or musician gets hyped, you often realize they may not necessarily have come from starving Nowhere (hey there, J. Lo!), but someone with pull gave them an secretive push to get them necessary exposure.

Before you can get yourself too embroiled with these cynicisms against publicity forces, along comes a band with a distinct sound, look, and darkly humorous attitude that is really in it to make music that interests them; if others enjoy it as well, all the better. Such appears to be the case with the alternative group They Might Be Giants, who had their 20th anniversary this past year, which is possibly overly covered in A.J. Schnack's feature length directorial debut Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns.

The dynamic Johns the title refers to are band members Flansburgh and Linnell, the former an outgoing showman obviously appreciative of every fan's praise, the latter the quieter introvert with impeccable pitch. Particularly unusual about this pair is not only their obsession with coffee instead of the stereotypical booze associated with the rock community, but also that they never come across as trying to look good because Schnack's camera is on them. Their combination of personalities, the sharp wit, and reminiscing about 20 years of change in New York's music environs are poignant, funny, and consistently entertaining.

However, at the length of 102 minutes, despite the engaging presence of the central figures, Gigantic lags with its saturation of industry people who state how much they love the Johns, and the influential presence the band has had on alternative music. Not that any of the extraneous individuals are ever boring to listen to, but there are so many of them that what is said ends up feeling repetitious.

This complimentary footage was probably difficult to let go of, especially when seeing the band's success (or lack thereof) in the market because of record company changeovers. But the fact that Flansburgh and Linnell have turned down offers because they feared not being able to compose or play the way they wished sheds more light on their independent spirit than several peers gloating over how wonderful they are. And how about running a Dial-a-Song, an answering machine-based song service, for free? Or being the first band to release a full-length MP3-only album on the Internet? These and other shenanigans aren't just publicity stunts, they are the signs of people who take their work more seriously than any measure of fame that has come with it.

There is a final oxymoronic elegance, which seems to only fit the band better, that a film entitled Gigantic is about two very normal guys doing what they enjoy, getting paid for it, and yet not succumbing to any need to keep up with the glamorous side of the rock world that they've found a special niche in. That Schnack is obviously a fan, and yet keeps his eye on them simple and reflective, deserves praise and attention.

They might be overly caffeinated.



Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns

Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 10th March 2002

Distributed by: Cowboy Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Fresh: 37 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: A.J. Schnack

Producer:

Starring: as Himself, as Himself

Also starring:

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