Extremely Loud and Incredibly Gross
22/02/2016 - 26/02/2016
06/04/2020 - 31/05/2020
Critics say Final Destination 3 is “crass,” “vulgar,” “butchery as a spectator sport.” Adam Goodall disagrees, and he wants you to disagree too!
Unfortunately, Adam knows that writing down the reasons that Final Destination 3 is one of the greatest films of all time won’t cut it – this is 2016, you’re all listening to audiobooks and subscribing to Serial. So he’s booked out some space at BATS Theatre and he invites you to join him for the live recording of a very serious, very important radio show about the unheralded achievement that is Final Destination 3.
Adam and In House Live Musician Oliver Devlin (Playshop, Mothy) will be joined by a rotating cast of your favourite Wellington performers – two each night, all of whom have only seen the script 24 hours before recording. Together, they will bring to life all of Adam’s carefully-prepared background research: interviews with the cast and crew of Final Destination 3, scenes from the Final Destination series, academic film theory, field reporting, and much much more.
Adam is confident this will be an intellectually-stimulating event that will run smoothly and without the exposure of any awkward personal truths. He can’t wait for you to join him!
Leaving Party presents Extremely Loud and Incredibly Gross
The Studio, BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
Mon 22 – Fri 26 February 2016
as part of the New Zealand Fringe Festival 2016
Covid 19 Lockdown Festival 2020
RNZ recording 24th February 2016
Broadcast 11 Mar 2016
The performance is set around the supposed recording of a podcast where commentator Adam Goodall hopes to justify his obsession with the horror flick, Final Destination 3. He has invited to the recording two guest actors who play a range of characters (commentators and themselves). Oliver Devlin plays the podcast sound recordist and SFX man. But Devlin is the biggest fly in Goodall’s ointment as he begins to ask serious questions about Goodall’s style and his intention. The recording goes belly up and the stage show ends up taking us to a place that begins to ask serious questions about the nature – and perhaps social function – of trivial obsessions.
Guest actors for this recording – Jean Sergent and Johnny Potts
Also starring Your favourite Wellington performers
Promotional Image by Hadley Donaldson
ADAM GOODALL is a Wellington-based writer and director and founding member of the New Zealand Fringe Award-winning Making Friends Collective. Adam has written three full-length plays - Deadlines, Rageface (shortlisted, Playmarket Playwrights b4 25 competition 2013) and Knifed - and has directed and co-directed six productions in Wellington and Dunedin, including the New Zealand Fringe Award-winning Proficiency Test.
ALICE MAY CONNOLLY is a Wellington-based performer, writer and director. Alice co-produces and co-hosts the podcast What We Talk About When We Talk About, a storytelling podcast celebrating obsessions. She directed Eamonn Marra's Respite in the 2015 New Zealand International Comedy Festival, and was script advisor for portmanteau film TALK (winner, Best Visual Arts Award - Auckland Fringe Festival Awards 2013), in which she wrote and directed the short film BATH.
Theatre , Audio (podcast) ,
1 hr 6 mins
A bit like a rollercoaster and highly recommended
Review by Erin Harrington 06th Apr 2020
Adam Goodall’s charming, witty show for the 2016 NZ Fringe Festival, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Gross: a critical appraisal of Final Destination 3 presented for your approval by Adam Goodall, takes as starting point the notion that the 2006 comedy-horror Final Destination 3 is not just underrated. No – it’s the greatest film of all time.
Given that podcasts are the persuasive and narrative mode du jour, the show takes the form of a live recording of a radio show, complete with ads and talking heads provided by guest performers Jonny Potts and Jean Sergent, and long-suffering musician Oliver Devlin. Appropriate, then, that the show was also recorded by RNZ as a part of its Live On Stage, Now! initiative. Although it was initially broadcast on air in March 2016, it is now available in all its comic, argumentative glory for your COVID-19 lockdown listening.
The object of Goodall’s affection is a mostly-forgotten horror film, currently sitting at 43% on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, which focuses on a group of uncommonly attractive teens who have narrowly escaped a mass casualty accident on a rollercoaster. As with the other films in the series, the teens have messed up the ledger of the living and the dead and they will now, in the words of rock band Motörhead, be killed by Death. The films’ blackly comic pleasures are in seeing elaborate, unexpected Rube Goldberg machines of destruction take out the irritating characters one by one.
While initially gesturing towards the form and tone of acclaimed podcasts like This American Life and 99% Invisible, Goodall offers an impassioned, increasingly bombastic, defence of the film. He draws first from detailed deconstructions of scenes and motifs, then art theory by way of German philosopher Walter Benjamin and legendary critic Susan Sontag, and ultimately increasingly baroque configurations of socio-political analysis (it’s postmodernism! It’s 9/11!). The shtick is that he positions the film not just as an idiosyncratic object of affection, but the saviour of cinema; but will we, the audience, be persuaded?
At what point does Goodall’s obsession turn into arrogant nit-picking? I must admit that as someone who loves talking baseball about C-tier films, and whose PhD focussed on horror film, I feel both incredibly validated and extremely judged.
Throughout, Jonny Potts and Jean Sergent – two of a rotating cast of cold readers – do a terrific job of acting as collaborators and in-character talking heads. As well as speaking for themselves, they portray everyone from the film’s cast (interviewed by Goodall), to characters, to one of Goodall’s university lecturers, the latter of whom becomes a voice of reason against Goodall’s excesses. Similarly, musician Oliver Devlin’s real time music and on-stage performance provides the hour with texture and structure, even as Devlin becomes Goodall’s fall guy.
I admit that I am really fond of lo-fi performances that combine prepared material, reading, and limited staging. Even without the being able to see the performers you can get a clear sense of the show’s sense of playfulness, and it’s freedom and spontaneity within the prescribed form, especially as things (a rollercoaster motif) start to derail. It’s incredibly entertaining.
I can’t imagine the difficulty of making an audio recording of a show while it’s being performed for both the future listener and the present, in-person audience, even given the small performance space and voice-centred nature of the show. I appreciate how the engineers have captured the performance’s sense of energy. This includes the spatial and interpersonal relationships between the performers, and (in particular) Goodall’s rapport with the crowd, whose laughter and responses we can hear throughout.
This last is important; although you’d expect the person hosting the lecture to maintain authority, a struggle develops as Goodall’s performance becomes an increasingly pretentious manifesto on the politics and semiotics of film, and his collaborators get fed up and begin to revolt. Goodall must instead find a way to win us back over, and this sense of accord is clearly expressed. It’s a credit to the show’s director, Alice May Connolly, that this makes it through to audio.
Underpinning the entire production are questions about taste, cultural canons, ‘good’ or ‘bad’ art, and ‘good’ or ‘bad’ criticism. What do we take seriously, and why? How do we express and explore this? While Goodall’s inclusion of Sontag’s essay “On Photography”, at one point, is equal parts clever analysis, good gag, and strong reason for his persona to be attacked by his co-performers for offering a PhD defence instead of a podcast, the show is really engaging with another of Sontag’s most famous pieces of work.
In her 1966 essay Against Interpretation, Sontag argues that some areas of contemporary art criticism have become so fixated on complex ‘readings’ of an artwork that they tame and stifle the their object of analysis. This style of argumentation will be familiar to anyone who has spent long amounts of time online reading hot takes about all manner of cultural phenomena. Think about those fans and critics who want to own something so much that they smash it to bits in the process, like pulling the wings off a butterfly to show how it flies. Goodall does a great job of dramatizing this sense of competitive, all-encompassing analysis, which positions the critic above, and not in a relationship with, the work. He also ably highlights the emotional and intellectual stakes of such criticism as things, later, crumble.
Instead, Sontag advocates for an ‘erotics’ of art that makes space for language that expresses the transcendent, sensuous and subjective nature of art. How we feel about it, and why we love it, is important. We get there in the end, even if it takes an intervention.
The warm, empathetic denouement is a satisfying resolution to a show that, like its object of regard, is a bit like a rollercoaster, and also highly recommended. The rollercoaster I mean, not the film. But maybe the film too? It is pretty fun, but not great, but definitely fun, and worth watching, but whether Goodall convinces you of that, or not, is up to you.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Fun and funny and smart and comforting and exciting
Review by Shannon Friday 23rd Feb 2016
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Gross: A Critical Reappraisal of Final Destination 3 Presented For Your Consideration By Adam Goodall grew out of a ‘What We Talk About’ lecture Goodall gave last year. In his lecture, Goodall describes his obsession with Final Destination 3, a mediocre slasher film that, under his careful observation, reveals surprising layers of meaning.
Under the direction of Alice May Connolly,the basic premise is expanded into an exploration about the usefulness and dangers of obsession itself. The self-aware parody of obsession of Extremely Loud is turned up to 11, while maintaining so much of the desire to analyse, scrutinize, and possess the object of the obsession – still Final Destination 3. And, sure, Extremely Loud is about Final Destination 3.
More than that, it is about our relationships to pop culture, what resonates with us as individuals and why (*cough*Star Trek*cough*), and the arrogance of our own obsessions (*cough*Trekkieslikeme*cough*cough*cough*).
Goodall plays an up-tempo version of his most obsessed self; a hyperactive pseudo-intellectual with an overbearing will. (I’m going to call the character Adam to differentiate him from Goodall the actor/writer.)
Adam and team are on a mission to save modern cinema. Their weapon? A podcast about the greatness of Adam’s subject/personal obsession: Final Destination 3! Assisting are two guest actors (Matt Powell and Keegan Carr Fransch, who are either ridiculously prepared or the best cold-readers in history) waiting in their folding chairs for the event to begin. Rounding out the onstage crew is Ollie Devlin, the laid-back, more-than-slightly-sceptical voice of dissent and the audio engineer, who plays sounds from his iPad to create the desired 99% Invisible/This American Life moody and intellectual soundscape.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Gross has a dual-layer structure, like the book (and to a lesser degree, the film) The Princess Bride. Confession: I am a total sucker for this stuff; I never know how much to believe. So stepping into a room full of mics and a big mixing board, I totally buy the fact that Extremely Loud is going to be made into a podcast, just like What We Talk About. It’s the same way that The Princess Bride sucked me in at 14; I spent a stupid amount of time searching for the Morgenstern ‘original’ then, and slightly less time figuring out the multiple layers here.
The illusion doesn’t last very long, however, because the interactions between Adam and Ollie are so obviously scripted (thankfully, given my absolute gullibility). Relatively little care is paid to the conditions of recording. Adam jumps on Ollie for ‘missing’ an early cue, but there’s little regard for the fact that the pair are making so much noise off mic while the recording continues. And a later error, where the reverb is left on a microphone after it should have been removed, is left uncorrected. It’s a logical mis-step that bugs me all out of proportion.
Extremely Loud shares an overall journey that is ripped straight from Uther Dean’s even more ludicrously titled The presentation of findings from my scientific survey of THE FIRST 7500 DAYS OF MY LIFE done in the interest of showing you how to live better lives. Adam starts his analysis, mostly of the film’s overall structures and techniques, while Fransch and Powell provide the voices of the characters, actors, filmmakers, and commentators. Among the many fantastic voices, mad credit goes to Powell for his Tim Groves impression, and Fransch for her delightfully inarticulate Chris Willingham, Final Destination 3’s editor. And to both for North American accents that don’t make me want to stick chopsticks in my ears.
Early mishaps, however, show that maybe not everyone onstage is as on board with his mission as he might have hoped, as Ollie questions and challenges Adam, who (verbally) smacks him back down.
The tiffs stem from the fact that everything Adam likes about the movie exists at the highest level of the film. There’s a lot about clever editing, how set pieces fit with the film’s structure, Final Destination’s theme and how FD3 delivers it with the greatest clarity of any of the series, and the filmic games the makers use to increase suspense and create tension. There is very little about, you know, the plot (probably because there isn’t much of one in FD3). But instead of digging down into the specifics, Adam keeps spiralling off into the scholarly ether, drawing in quotes from Susan Sontag to back up his theories. It’s the intellectual version of not wanting to get one’s hands dirty.
As Ollie keeps trying to corral Adam back to some semblance of talking about something concrete, Adam becomes more and more desperate to draw the film’s greatness up into the theoretical heavens. He becomes increasingly erratic, shouting unexpectedly at his collaborators (drawing my favourite aside of the night), jumping through the script, and just generally being a dickhead, sabotaging his own chance at creating a connection over his obsession.
When everything has spiralled completely out of his hands, Adam turns in desperation to Fransch, hoping for some sympathy and mutual adoration of the film. Instead, Fransch fucking brings it! She lets fly with a super-badass deconstruction of the film’s patriarchal/racist stereotypes and resistance to analysis, citing the way FD3 punishes both insight and ambition with death. She goes on and on – while Adam furiously sucks fresh air from the window before finally crunching himself into a ball along the back wall in resentful despair – pulling apart specific plot points that Adam’s obsessive concern with the larger patterns of the movie completely glosses over.
Watching her, I can’t figure out if I want to sit there in slack-jawed wonder at the torrent of bewilderment and scorn pouring from Fransch, or to jump up and down at her incisive but totally oppositional reading of the social implications of what I know is a crappy film. I haven’t been this excited about analysing a piece of pop culture since Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out, and really, that’s just because Star Wars is one of my (several) obsessions. Really, I haven’t been this excited about critical analysis since, like, 2005 and drunken dorm room arguments about Foucault and sci-fi. (Don’t judge; you did it, too.)
After Adam storms out, Powell is left to salvage the idea of obsession as worthwhile at all. Tentatively, he steps up to the mic to talk very simply about the bits of pop culture that defined something for him, including Krull and Fluppy Dogs, a terrible Disney TV movie about dogs who could travel between dimensions. (No, really; my younger brother was obsessed with the dog movie, too. It exists.) It’s a personal, totally human-scale story, rooted in his memories of growing up and colouring at the kitchen table. It’s a stark contrast to everything from both Adam and Fransch.
Powell’s gentle plea that our obsessions might be different, but the vulnerability we share in loving them is the same, spurs Ollie to extend an olive branch to Adam. Adam’s straightforward, unadorned sharing of how Final Destination 3 helped him make sense of his own doubt and fear of his future rings so true. It’s the same way that in intermediate school, Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager gave me a tough-as-nails role model for female leadership, just as I started wondering what my femininity actually meant for me. I feel gratitude for that series that goes far beyond its problematic (alien but not really) race relations and repetitive plots.
However: given how much Adam’s tendency to abstract his arguments undermines the value of his obsession with Final Destination 3, I do find my attention wandering when the same expansion is applied to the idea of obsession itself. I am called back to the happy /excited /sharing place by the clever ending credits, which reveal some of the obsessions of the cast and crew.
Can I just say, as a final note, how delightful it is to be able to both argue the logical structure of a show and talk about how it touched me personally in a review? This almost never happens, because a lot of shows aren’t actually about anything. Extremely Loud is not a perfect show by any means, but it is about something. And it is fun and funny and smart and comforting and exciting. And more theatre should do that.
Also, Keegan: we gotta get together and talk about Firefly sometime.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer