Ladies and gentlemen, it is with an overabundance of confidence and pride that I present to you Frank & Cindy, an independently made documentary from boy genius G.J. Echternkamp, a lad whose last name I dare don’t attempt to pronounce. This fascinating 73-minute feature explores the dysfunctional lives of G.J.’s own mother and stepfather, two individuals whose careers took a detour to the wrong side of the tracks.
Back in the early '80s, Frank Garcia was a member of OXO, whose hit "Whirly Girl" would prove to be their only chart topper, thus plunging them into the illustrious One-Hit Wonder category. During the short-lived group's heyday, Frank met Cynthia Brown, a woman who was already two decades his senior (hey, we’ve all done it) and the two wed. Twenty-five years later, Frank and Cindy aren’t exactly the picture-perfect couple.
As a matter of fact, they don’t really get along.
Actually, they hate each other.
Cindy (the very epitome of a procrastinator) had always hoped to put her talented son through film school. Instead, she has furnished Frank a huge studio in the basement of their home in hopes that he’ll once again return to the music scene… hopping from one job to another while hoping to someday get her teeth fixed.
Frank (the very archetype of a lazy fat ass) has been busy squandering his wife’s money all of these years, using coffee cans as toilets whilst being banished to living in his studio, and being perfectly content with drinking his life away. When he makes the umpteenth vow to quit drinking once and for all, Cindy pulls a few strings to get him his first bona fide job in over a quarter of a century — at a film school.
What originally started out as a personal joke to mock an unmotivated stepfather evolved into something else. G.J. Echternkamp’s candid documentary is both hilarious and poignant and, no matter what our auteur’s true feelings about them may be, Frank & Cindy offers up an evenhanded look at two extremely flawed individuals and comes highly recommended.
Besides, any movie made by a guy with a Phantom Of The Paradise poster gets points in my book.
Frank & Cindy was featured on a season one episode of Ira Glass’s This American Life, giving its viewers just a taste of this mini-classic (this TAL episode is available through Amazon Video On Demand, but the full-length feature is available on DVD from the filmmaker himself for only $20, and can be obtained by simply dropping an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The DVD comes autographed by Frank and Cindy themselves (seriously) and you may rest assured that the money made through the sales of these discs will help put G.J. through film school finally (or at least land him a job there… next to his step-dad).