The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)

kid_stays_in_the_picture-2Based on the book, this great documentary, this tell the story of Robert Evans, the prolific producer of Paramount who green – lit such historic films as “Rosemary’s Baby”, “Love Story,” and “Godfather” just to name a few. This tells of how he became discovered by Norma Shearer who cast him in a supporting role in “Man of a thousand Faces”. Afterwards, he made his attempt at stardom but inevitably failed and gave up on his career. With director Darryl Zanuck as his inspiration, the man who never gave up on him, he became a self-employed movie producer and went on to become a rich man always at war with Paramount pictures over his decisions. Ultimately, this tells the story of a man who created Camelot and lost it to his ambitions.

This is a beautiful and very engrossing story about a man who was such a commander and a go-getter when it came to business, but inevitably became ruined by it. Robert Evans is a ballsy kind of man who always takes the producers and heads of Paramount by the balls and never let go. My favorite parts of the movie are when he tells the story of how he and “Love Story” star Ali McGraw fell in love, often describing her as “Snot-nose”. The saddest parts are when he reveals that she left him for actor Steve Mcqueen after he focused all his attention on making “The Godfather” and not on her. I love when he describes how he took Francis Ford Coppola in a room and told him how much he hated “Godfather” and how he wanted it longer; these two were often at war on-set and off-set. Through Evans’ self-effacing narrating, he holds nothing back, pulls no punches and never apologizes for everything he’s done to different people which is why this documentary has so much appeal.

The directors Brett Morgan and Nanette Burnstein give a beautiful and interesting documentary, by mixing bittersweet scenery and beautiful montages of pictures presenting Evan’s feelings during his love affairs and chaotic life moments. Often, his feelings are depicted through his many movies he created, which may seem goofy, but works well in this. True, this does focus on the interesting life of Robert Evans, this doesn’t focus enough on the film making and problems Robert Evans endured with many actors and producers. It’s focused on a lot, and we get to see his war with Francis Ford Coppola, but I wanted to learn and see more about what went on behind the screen of these movies, especially “Godfather.” I would have also liked to see commentary from other of his closest friends and co-horts, but this is a deeply personal chronicle of Evans’ life. To sum it all up, I wanted to see more of other people and how they reacted to Evans and his work.

The picture scenes are the best when the figures within the pictures seem to lift off the page, while Evans narrates and mimics all the people he’s met in his life. A lot of times when there is a change in time period within the documentary there will be a sliding picture montage, showing pictures of Evans during his happiest moments. One of the best parts of the movie is in the end when Evans’ empire is in ruins and he admits himself into a mental institution as an alternative to committing suicide. In a dramatic climax, he attempts to escape the institution and reclaim his treasured home which is taken back for him by his best friend Jack Nicholson. All in all, despite some reservations, this is an interesting and excellent documentary that leaves no stone unturned mixing beautiful directing along with great and humble narrating by Evans.