Chances are, if you’re not a curmudgeon, you probably know one – that hyper-articulate guy or gal with the scabrous wit who thinks the world’s going to hell in a handbasket, the misanthrope who hates anything ‘cool,’ the crank for whom pop culture is anathema, the contrarian who’d like to strangle the next person who says “it’s all good.” Alan Zwieg is one of those people, and like a lot of curmudgeons, he’s even cranky about being called a curmudgeon. But now Zweig –
who also made the great obsessive-record-collector doc Vinyl in 2000 – has decided to come clean, and perhaps even to change his dyspeptic ways.
In I, Curmudgeon he travels the world in search of like-minded malcontents, in the hope of understanding what many would consider an affliction. As he meets up with others of his ilk, including such well-known and endearing sourpusses as Harvey Pekar, Fran Lebowitz, Mark Eitzel, Cintra Wilson, Bruce La Bruce, Andy Rooney, Scott Thomson (from The Kids in the Hall) and Joe Queenan, they explore the world of the curmudgeon. It’s not an easy life — most people seem to answer every “How are you?” with a “Great!” while the small-talk-killing curmudgeon will tell you how crummy he actually feels. And nothing can smother a party better than a curmudgeon. But can they change? Can they turn that frown upside down? With the way the world is going these days, perhaps a better question is: Why isn’t everybody a curmudgeon? If Zweig doesn’t turn your positive outlook around in this hilarious, life-affirming documentary about negativity, then you’re a lost cause.
- Tod Booth