Capturing the Friedmans

dir. Jarecki

Opens Fri, July 11

Pioneer Place

I love a good documentary, especially one that involves a conspiracy theory, coercion, sloppy police work, a dysfunctional family, and the tearing of little boys' buttholes (or more succinctly, sodomy). Capturing the Friedmans has all of these things in one pretty little documentary package, and yet? It's strangely uninteresting.

The Friedmans, you see, are a middle-class Jewish family from Long Island. Three sons comprise the Friedmans, along with two parents, Arnold and Elaine. The dad is a schoolteacher who instructs computer classes to young boys in his basement on the side. Also located in the basement is Mr. Friedman's collection of kiddie porn, which he has hidden behind the piano. And no one knows about the kiddie porn until dumbass Mr. Friedman gets busted in a sting operation for sending kiddie porn through the mail. After he gets caught for the porn mags, a wave of hysteria and sloppy police work sweeps the town. Arnold and, oddly, his youngest son Jesse, are charged with about a million counts of child rape.

Thankfully for the filmmakers, during all of this insanity the three annoying sons record the dissolution of the Friedman family on video, which is the basis of the movie. There is lots of yelping and screaming and blaming but, shockingly, no footage that endears any of the subjects, except maybe the mom. The boys just seem like a gaggle of self-righteous tools, who apparently think their father and brother are innocent of the crime, but don't stand behind them with any conviction. The only thing they do with conviction is tape-record, snivel, and yell at their poor mother.

The people that director Andrew Jarecki chooses to interview for the movie are all similarly disinterested and bland. No one seems to really give a crap whether this father and son combo raped the kids--including the now-adult kids who can't remember anymore whether they were raped or not. And even more resounding is that no one seems to like the two enough to dispel the myth that they may be pedophilic butt rapers. It is posited that they are not, but no one ever bothers to put up a defense. Even the son, Jesse, never states his innocence, even though you figure he probably is. And so, the documentary loafs along, making no clear point and, frankly, giving me a butt-ache.