Tony Palmer's Film About the World of Michael Crawford Tony Palmer

While there is certainly something admirable about someone who possesses great passion for their work, there is something far less admirable, and perhaps nauseating, about someone who feels compelled to laugh at every single joke they make, especially when those jokes are pedestrian and often racist. One’s propensity for Michael Crawford, the actor and singer who headlined the Vegas show EFX, will determine the appreciation for this documentary, which is mostly comprised of confessional anecdotes. Starting out with former Las Vegas mayor Jan Jones delivering a Vegas appreciation diatribe about livability and population growth, along with some videos of various stage productions, topless dancers and flashy imagery, the documentary delves into the production of EFX and backtracks through Crawford’s career on film and stage. He reflects on what it was like to work with Gene Kelly, how doing a musical while going through puberty was apparently amusing, how making a joke about testicles got him fired, and how awe-inspiring it was for him to do Phantom of the Opera. It is all extremely self-congratulatory, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who actually watched EFX, a masturbatory vanity project that, according to Crawford, attracted a large "oriental” audience, whom he discusses while squinting his eyes, jutting out his front teeth and putting on a charming little Asian accent, which should certainly endear him to that community. Palmer’s editing of the doc is solid, juxtaposing appropriate footage with interview clips with an understanding of pacing, which at least helps the entire thing move by at a decent clip. While Crawford’s intentional humour is far from amusing, the many outdated and ignorant slights may prove comical to some, while some realities about wearing white jumpsuits on film, without the appropriate padding in key areas, may raise a few eyebrows. (Koch)