SXSW Movie Review: Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie

Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie

Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie, a documentary directed by Jay Delaney, is, true to the title, not about Bigfoot (a.k.a. Sasquatch, a.k.a. Yeti), the mythical apelike giant that first chronicled in the 1920s in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and, more recently, the American Midwest. Bigfoot has appeared in stories, novels, horror films, and on television in an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. More than eighty years after the first sightings and despite the efforts of researchers, Bigfoot’s existence remains uncorroborated, a mystery to some, a myth to others, and the life work for others. Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie follows Wayne Burton and Dallas Gilbert, middle-aged friends, Portsmouth, Ohio residents, and amateur researchers who claim to have seen and photographed Bigfoot.

Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie, however, is less about the search for Bigfoot (although there is that), but a dual character study of two men who feel life slipping by without recognition or achievements they can call their own. For Dallas, finding evidence of Bigfoot’s existence has been a ten-year obsession. He’s developed a web site where he posts photographic and video evidence (most of it murky and open to interpretation). Dallas’ source of income, if any, isn’t disclosed. Given his age and poor health, he probably lives on Social Security. Burton, a presumably younger man in better health, works at a car wash to eke a living. He lives next door with his wife in a house they own. Burton, however, faces serious financial difficulties, including the inability to pay back a loan that might cost him and his wife their home.

While Dallas seems motivated by the desire for recognition, Wayne seems motivated by both a desire for recognition (he expresses regrets for his failures) and the desire for a windfall, selling evidence of the Bigfoot’s existence to the highest bidder, making repairs on his house, buying a new car or van, and saving the remainder for his retirement. Alas, Dallas and Wayne’s efforts prove fruitless, even after a professional Bigfoot researcher arrives from California. Dallas gets recognition of sorts: a plaque from a Bigfoot group for his efforts. Unfortunately, Wayne gets nothing. In fact, Wayne misspeaks during an Internet radio interview to discuss a photograph he took. His mistake makes him and, by extension, Dallas look like attention-seeking frauds.

Unfortunately, Not Another Bigfoot Movie is far less compelling and engaging than director Jay Delaney thinks it is. Dallas and Wayne aren’t particularly good storytellers. More often than not, they end wandering off-subject to discuss their uneventful lives. Delaney overindulges Wayne, including footage of Wayne visiting his elementary school and high school, while lamenting the absence of blue-collar jobs in a de-industrialized city. Ultimately, Delaney half-succeeds in making Dallas and Wayne, men facing bleak futures with little hope, men who find meaning in a quixotic pursuit, sympathetic figures. It’s a pity, though, that Delaney wasn’t able to make Dallas and Wayne’s story more compelling or engaging. Maybe a broader scope, maybe more context or background would have helped, but Delaney seemed more interested in Dallas and Wayne as amateur Bigfoot researchers (a novelty that wears off fast) than as victims of globalization and the outsourcing of blue-collar work to other countries.

/Film Rating: 6 out of 10

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