Fancast Movie of the Week: Sleeping Dogs Lie

Once a week, we’ll pick out one of Fancast’s many full-length free feature films to spotlight. Sure, you’ll check out the big stuff like Body Count, Deuces Wild and Killing Zoe, but the smaller movies need shout-outs, too.

The Movie of the Week is from director Bobcat Goldthwait, whose film World’s Greatest Dad starring Robin Williams is in theaters right now. We’re featuring his previous film, the Sundance Film Festival hit Sleeping Dogs Lie. It stars Melinda Page Hamilton (whom you’ve seen on Mad Men and Desperate Housewives) as Amy, a sweet young woman who has a bizarre sexual secret that haunts her conscience. It only happened once on a complete bored whim, she regretted it immediately (even if her dog had no complaints), but she could never forget that it happened. So as she’s moved forward with her life, she’s found a seemingly great guy to love… but she’s in anguish over the dilemma of whether or not she should be completely honest with him about her past.

Goldthwait’s making a new name for himself as a director by taking situations that would normally be punchlines – with both Amy’s secret in this film and the auto-erotic asphyxiation tragedy in World’s Greatest Dad – and exploring the humanity around them. He feels he’s finally found his calling, and he dismisses the career that made him famous in the 1980s as something he’s left behind – referring to Police Academy as his “porn past.” Watch Sleeping Dogs Lie and see how he’s becoming one of Sundance’s favorite directors, and check out my interview with Bobcat below.

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Q&A with Director Bobcat Goldthwait

Q. What would you say to someone sitting down to watch this film for the first time?
Bobcat Goldthwait: I would say, if you haven’t seen it, to stick with it for at least 20 minutes. When I watched it at Sundance, there was a woman trying to leave right after the first five minutes, and her friend talked her into staying, and about an hour into it, that same woman was sobbing. My daughter, who was 19 at the time, said “look at your friend now. You cry, bitch. You cry.”

Q. What sparked the initial idea for this film? It seems like such a strange springboard.
Goldthwait: I wanted to write a movie about unconditional love. I know if you heard about these movies, you’d think they were slob comedies or that they were gimmicky, but no, I was just trying to explore that. I’m interested in making movies that reflect the way that me and my friends talk. Maybe that’s shocking to the rest of the world, but that’s the way we talk.

Q. How much of a struggle was it to get this film made?
Goldthwait: It was no struggle, because we shot in two weeks with a crew from Craigslist. Maybe one or two people in show business read it – I had one guy ask ‘can she just jerk off the dog?’ I just said “this is stupid, why am I wasting my time?’ So I just went out and made it. Same thing with World’s Greatest Dad. Once Robin came on board, it changed and we suddenly had people interested in it, but they wanted it to be a comedy starring Robin Williams, and they started making suggestion. I actually walked away twice when paperwork was already done up. I’d rather not make a movie than make a movie where I had to listen to people’s notes or have the possibility of people taking it away from me and cutting it.

Q. You didn’t get Melinda Page Hamilton off of Craigslist, did you?
Goldthwait: No. She came in, and as soon as she read I realized that she was so great, and if she did the movie, I felt like it might work. I was terrified that somebody was going to talk her out of being in the movie – which, by the way, almost happened. Her agent or manager was saying “you shouldn’t do this movie, it won’t even be a DVD.” Melinda said “this movie’s going to be at Sundance!” I thought “oh, naive girl!” But then it was at Sundance. It was such a shock.

Q. Did you consider her for World’s Greatest Dad as well, or did you want to change it up?
Goldthwait: I wanted to change it up, but I definitely will work with her again. She’s such a great actress. The movie I’m working on now has so many roles, I’ll be able to bring back a lot of the “Bobwood Players” as Robin calls them. I’m finishing up a screenplay about spree killers, but I’m also trying to get a movie going – Ray Davies of The Kinks kinda gave me his blessing to go do this musical from the Kinks album ‘Schoolboys In Disgrace’ so I’m trying to write that up for him.

Q. What prompted the change in the title from Stay, which it was originally called?
Goldthwait: Marc Forster had that movie that was called Stay and that was a much bigger company putting it out. I do like the idea that somebody rented that movie and wondered ‘when is Naomi Watts going to blow a dog?’

Q. Sleeping Dogs Lie seems to be a counterpoint to World’s Greatest Dad, as they deal with both sides of the honesty coin. What’s your personal experience with lying and the value of truth?
Goldthwait: I am fascinated by the lies that we tell ourselves and about lying in general. I don’t know why. I was telling my girlfriend recently that ‘I got this idea for this movie about the lies that we tell ourselves!’ She said ‘oh, that’ll be a new spin. That’ll be the fifth screenplay you’ve written about that.’ That’s what interests me. Some people are obsessed with gangsters. For me, it’s the fact that we all continually make up our own reality, so it’s really confusing to figure out what the real truth is.

Q. You’ve said you view Police Academy as your porn past. Do you include your stand-up career and movies like One Crazy Summer in that as well?
Goldthwait: I”m not saying I didn’t have a good time making One Crazy Summer and that I still don’t have friends from there, but I’m waiting to go on a radio show the other day and they played a clip from One Crazy Summer. I’m glad it’s a fond memory for people, but at this point it’s just a little boring. I know that I mean stuff to people, but I don’t try to dismiss that, but my stand-up comedy has changed a lot. I was on the road and I was making a movie of the stand-up comedy, and I thought when I got done, you’d see that wacky morning radio teams are douchebags and that opening acts are bitter and that club owners are criminals – and they all are to an extent, but it wasn’t happening. Everything was going okay, but I was still miserable. I thought “why do I hate doing this?” and I went “Oh, oh, it’s because you hate this character.” I just jettisoned it. I said I’m just going to go up and do stand-up as me. It was really scary but it was kinda freeing at the same time. I said it before – Zed’s dead.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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