Who's In It: Joaquin Phoenix, Ben Stiller, Sean Combs
The Basics: "I don't want to play the character of Joaquin anymore," he says at the beginning of this documentary, which asserts that we're witnessing the "real" JP, the one who wants to quit acting (and shaving and bathing) but would still prefer the minor privileges of celebrity life, like keeping his mini-entourage of assistants, getting meetings with famous hip-hop producers to help him turn his laughably bad rapping into his next career move, getting invited to Obama's inauguration and getting nominated for another Academy Award for the crappy Reservation Road. Who wouldn't want to retain those perks?
What's the Deal: This movie is either real or it's fake and I don't care which one of those truths emerges because the fate of Joaquin Phoenix's career is of very little personal consequence to me. I'm a big fan of Walk The Line and his performance in it, but it seems to me that if a comparative judgment is to be made, and if this film is a true documentation of his recent life, then it would be better for everyone who likes him in movies, not least of all himself on and off camera, if JP could find a way move out of the "Drug Johnny" phase of his own life and into the part at the end I like to call "Contented While Holding a Bucket of Fried Chicken Johnny."
What You Get: JP all catatonic on Letterman, making a snow angel, growing an awesome wild-man beard and distinctly less awesome matted hair, hiring hookers, telling the camera that he wants to "smell the [prostitute]'s butthole," snorting and licking cocaine of the prostitute's naked breasts, snapping towels at his naked male friends, falling down a lot, slurring his speech, manically running around doing nothing, complaining about being misunderstood, grumping around when famous-person luxuries are denied and insulting There's Something About Mary to Ben Stiller's face. (But why not Night At The Museum?). You're also treated to the sight of him wearing a germ-protection mask on the side of his head, barfing more than anyone else has in a film since the kid in Stand By Me, asking a friend to trim his stray back hairs and getting rejected by P. Diddy. (And just for the record this makes two hilarious performances by Mr. Combs in 2010. It's clear that in his scene with JP that Combs is the one who owns all the KooKooRoos.)
If It's Fake: Then it's a kinda-funny mockumentary about celebrity narcissism, careerist rage and the ugly spoiled bratness of very rich people, nothing you couldn't have already taken away from almost anything written by the awesome Cintra Wilson, author of A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Re-examined As A Grotesque Crippling Disease, a book I highly recommend. If that's what you want to see then This Is Spinal Tap is more fun. In fact, The Real Housewives of New Jersey is more fun.
If it's Real: Then JP is both a jerk and a drug addict and I hope that Casey Affleck pointing a camera at him was some sort of step toward an actual intervention.