I Shot Andy Warhol (Mary Harron)

Rating: *** (out of ****)

Superficial but entertaining, I Shot Andy Warhol can't quite decide whether it wants to be a serious, documentary-style investigation in the tradition of Silkwood or a stylized, goofy, to-hell-with-the-facts romp in the tradition of Ed Wood, and ends up, predictably, occupying a bizarre biopic limbo: too ridiculous to be credible, not ridiculous enough to be truly inspired. A fine ensemble cast -- Lili Taylor, Jared Harris, Stephen Dorff, Michael Imperioli, and others -- seems to be having a fine old time, and their performances are great fun (I especially enjoyed Harris' befuddled take on Warhol, and this is the first time I haven't actively loathed Dorff). Harron's direction is energetic and extremely assured, and there isn't a boring moment in the picture. Its main failing is a common one, one it shares with the vast majority of movies based on actual people and/or events: there's no real reason for its existence. Harron and her co-writer, Daniel Minahan, haven't come up with a particularly incisive or interesting take on the material; the impetus behind the picture seems to have been simply "was this one wacky feminist lunatic, or what? And check out those other wacky folks she hung out with!" (In fact, Harron originally intended to make a documentary, and probably should have; though I enjoyed this film, I'd much rather have seen that one.) I Shot Andy Warhol doesn't have much to say. That noted, it does a better and more entertaining job of saying not much of anything than most such movies. I didn't come away from the film feeling as though I'd learned anything about the real Valerie Solanas, or even much about the real late-60's/Factory atmosphere (apart from some period detail), but I did come away feeling as though I'd had a pretty good time being bamboozled.