That’s Adequate

Director: Harry Hurwitz
Screenwriters: Harry Hurwitz

Institute History

  • 1989 Sundance Film Festival


That’s Adequate is a wildly Rabelaisian takeoff on the history of American moviemaking. It’s as if, say, Roger Corman, while tripping on acid, hallucinated that all filmmaking was his own megalomaniac creation.

The film takes the form of a strait-laced “serious” documentary celebrating the sixty-year anniversary of “Adequate Pictures,” founded by James Coco on the motto: “An idea that’s appealing is worth stealing.” Our on-camera host, Tony Randall, guides us through the studio’s origins, its intrigues and its jealousies. The documentary’s highlights are are wildly outrageous skits, excerpts from ostensible feature films, that parody everyone from D. W. Griffith to Woody Allen: “Slut of the South,” “Singing in the Synagogue,” “Einstein on the bounty,” “Father Knows Beaver,” “Baby Frankenstein” and “Fondling Fathers.”

Director Harry Hurwitz has survived many years of for-better-or-worse filmmaking, including his better The Projectionist, with his considerable wit and kooky intelligence intact. In lesser hands, That’s Adequate would disintegrate into adolescent humor. Here its cutting satire is, in fact, both precise and subversive, converting film histrionics (critics beware!) into giddy laughter.

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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