Windy City Heat (2003)

82

I’m not entirely sure how I am supposed to compose a review of Windy City Heat. This film is a stupid, excessive and cruel film that serves no purpose other than to be something made for the sake of seeing if it can be made. Windy City Heat is one of the most tastelessly mean films ever made, and it is quite possibly one of the funniest films I have ever seen in my life. There is not a single moment in Windy City Heat that I didn’t love – and the fact that this film doesn’t have a bigger following is quite a tragedy – if there was a hidden comedic gem, it is certainly Windy City Heat, a film that I am still laughing about, despite the fact that it isn’t really that much of a film.

It is going to be difficult to compose an entire review based on Windy City Heat because it is more of a concept than a film. Yet, I feel like this is a film that needs to reach a wider audience. Had it done so previously, and perhaps played in cinemas, it would’ve certainly be considered one of this century’s great comedic films, a film so outrageously odd and brilliantly put together, it actually impressed me that it managed to be this utterly and truly hilarious. I want this film to be seen by as many people as possible because it is just something unlike anything you have ever seen before.

Windy City Heat is based on an idea by two comedians – Tony Barbieri and Don Barris, who have a friend named Perry Caravello who is a loud, obnoxious and highly unlikable comedian. Barbieri and Barris manage to convince Caravello that he has landed the lead role in a big-budget Hollywood film, despite the fact that Caravello is an obscure, non-famous comedian, and apparently he beat out the likes of Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford for the role. Windy City Heat tracks the filmmaking process, as the various people in this film lead Caravello to believe that he is really in a blockbuster film, and he is foolish enough to believe them, and it shows his attempts at being taken seriously as an actor, which constantly fails because Caravello is one of the worst actors I have ever set my eyes on.

If this sounds like a typical Hollywood satire, consider the fact that Caravello truly and entirely believes that he has been cast in the film. This is not a mockumentary or parody, this is probably more real than the vast majority of “reality TV” shown on television nowadays. This film is not intended to be a satire on filmmaking, nor is it supposed to make any commentary on society. It is simply an elaborate prank pulled on an unsuspecting victim, who falls prey to two very nasty and malicious men who simply want to mess with him. Windy City Heat is a film that finds its humor in the fact that it is nothing except a prank, something very real – and the true brilliance of this film comes when you realize that these moments, where Caravello reacts to the outrageous events occurring around him, are completely genuine.

Caravello is a strange figure. I am not entirely sure what to think of him. Previous to seeing Windy City Heat, I had no idea that he even existed. He is so obscure, I even doubt that he is famous at all. Windy City Heat is such an elaborate prank, and it is truly a very mean one at that. There are so many times where we feel sorry for Caravello because he is just being led to believe that he has truly made it in the film industry and that he is on his way to becoming a big star. I felt great sympathy for the man throughout the film, but not to the point where I didn’t find his misfortune so hilarious, because, above everything else, Caravello is an idiot. He is obnoxious, stupidly arrogant and just plain dumb to the point where he actually sometimes deserves to be deluded in such a cruel way. The best part of Caravello’s “performance” in this film is that it isn’t a performance at all – someone like Perry Caravello actually exists in this world, and if my research on the aftermath of Windy City Heat is true, he still genuinely believes the events of this film were real. There is something so beautifully poetic about the fact that someone can be so utterly stupid, it is actually very endearing to think about it.

Windy City Heat is a new kind of comedy film, one that we rarely see, because it is actually quite difficult to get right. It is a film where the humor doesn’t come from the situations directly, but rather from the aftermath. If there was ever a time where one could use the word “schadenfreude” to describe a film, it is now. Windy City Heat is such a mean-spirited, cruel film. It is something that goes out of its way to serve the purpose of just messing with someone who doesn’t actually seem that deserving of such foul treatment – and we actually do feel a little bad for Caravello – but like I said before, that doesn’t last long, because he is just a monumental halfwit and actually deserves what happens to him in this film.

What precisely in the purpose of Windy City Heat other than to be something made to just mess with Caravello? What it intended to be, and what it became, are two quite different things, in my opinion. What it was aiming to become was just a huge prank, never really intended to be something else. What it actually became was one of the most hilarious films I have ever seen. I have long believed that real life can sometimes be far more hilarious than anything cinema can produce – and Windy City Heat is a perfect example of reality when it is reflected properly, is a lot more entertaining than anything thought up in a writer’s room. The documentary atmosphere of Windy City Heat just further serves to accentuate the intricate comedic sensibilities of the film, and just highlights the absolutely ludicrous nature of everything that happens over the course of the prank.

I found myself believing that Windy City Heat actually transcended cinema itself, and approached the region of being more of a piece of performance art. It isn’t a film in the traditional sense, occupying a very awkward position on the cinematic spectrum. It is more of an experiment, combined with documentary-style ambitions. It results in something so genuinely odd and arbitrary, it doesn’t seem quite real. It is often overly surreal, and especially in the final moments of the film, it feels like something strangely artistic – and trust me, if you have seen Windy City Heat, you’ll know that to call this film “art” is quite a bizarre statement, but like any form of surreal art, it doesn’t quite make sense. If there is one film that can be called truly “odd”, it is Windy City Heat.

Windy City Heat really is a great film. I could read into it, and claim that it is a biting satire on the concept of celebrity and a parody of the filmmaking process, but that would be overthinking it way too much – rather, it is a hidden comedic gem that I feel needs to be seen, because it is just on a completely different level. It proves that sometimes we can’t imagine the depths of human stupidity, as well as the extent to which some people will go to create something funny. If I took away anything at all from Windy City Heat, it is that Perry Caravello gives one of the most unintentionally brilliant performances in film history. He is an absolute moron, and despite sometimes feeling like Windy City Heat goes a bit too far to ridicule him, I am reminded by his constant showcasing of supposed bravado that he deserves it, and if he is foolish enough to think that the events of this film were actually real, then he is as much of a dullard as he appears in this film. He’s an imbecile, but an endearing and adorable imbecile. If you haven’t seen Windy City Heat, do yourself a favor and seek it out. It is an extraordinarily funny film, and probably the most intricate pieces of comedy made during the last century. I wouldn’t ever say more films like this should be made (that would just be beyond cruel), but rather that Windy City Heat is something that needs to be seen to be believed.

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