Chicago International Film Festival 2011
Sadermania: From Fanship to Friendship Directed by: Adam Gacka Cast: Chris Sader, Hulk Hogan Running Time: 1 hr 20 mins Rating: NR Release Date: TBD
PLOT: Sadermania: From Fanship to Friendship tells the story of Chris Sader, a man in Chicago who is the ultimate Hulk Hogan fan (a Hulkamaniac, if you will). From the very young age of four, he’s been a follower of Hogan, and the most dedicated collector of anything his face was put on for the last few decades.
WHO'S IT FOR? The most appealing aspect of Sadermania is its Chicago pride. It's about a Chicago guy, and it's made by Chicago filmmakers (who studied at Flashpoint, if I'm not mistaken). Such pride will help viewers get through Sadermania. Anyone who has ever been a huge fan of a celebrity might find the main story of Sadermania to be appealing. Hulkamaniacs will watch this and weep at how much competition they have in their fandom kingdom.
The copy that I viewed of Sadermania: From Fanship to Friendship stated that it was a “Work in Progress.” With respect to that claim, I can’t judge this movie as a final product, but instead as a piece of film that needs a lot of re-hauling in order to prevent itself from being laughed at in other festivals to come. Sadermania has a long way to go before it will be a decent documentary, and I’m not just talking about changing title card fonts, etc.
The twist in Sadermania that makes the Chris Sader story worthy of a documentary is that Sader’s fandom ultimately leads to a strong bond with Hulk Hogan. After so many years of being a die-hand fan, Hogan truly befriends Sader, and the two are there for each other during dark personal days. For anyone who has ever spent hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of their life dedicated to someone’s work, this is the definition of a dream come true.
The documentary that tells Chris Sader’s story is missing a lot of elements to properly tell its knockout true story. Though it features Hulk doing interviews, there doesn’t seem to be much footage by the filmmakers themselves of Sader and Hulk together. In fact, we only seem to get a visual of such companionship during some B-roll that’s thrown in between the incomplete end credits. The “magic” of the story arises from Sader and Hulk switching off telling the story, which is only spiced up in a few occasions by animations (which disappear halfway through the movie). Footage of the two together is spare, and rarely looks like friendship, but more like Hogan keeping Sader around as someone to make him look better. If the two are such friends, why can’t we just watch them talk?
Sader’s fandom for Hulk inspires his own foray into wrestling, which is discussed in the movie with a couple of matches filmed in Chicago. Sadermania eventually tries to parallel one of Sader’s underdog matches with the dramatic events explained in his wife, but such a metaphor crumbles when the wrestling event has no sense of atmosphere, and we don’t even know if Sader is even a good wrestler himself.
Though there’s potential for a movie about an overweight obsessed fan befriending his hero to turn into a critique of the subject, Sadermania is excited about its subject with no sense of irony or disdain. He is the real deal, brother, but his documentary isn’t yet.
Sadermania has a good story buried somewhere beneath its wreckage of technical collapse. It turns two interesting friends into blabbering, disconnected talking heads.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10