March 26, 2014 – If you are a writer who’s ever belonged to a writer’s group, you will likely relate to most of the story line in the new indie film “Authors Anonymous”. I’ve belonged to a few and admit it can be torturous to try to find a positive word for a writer whose work is bad, and I’ve been on both the receiving and giving end of this scenario.
I never got much from these groups, which is why I don’t join them anymore. However, it doesn’t mean I won’t watch movies about them because there is something intriguing about work shopping and critiquing when I don’t have to participate.
The story follows a dysfunctional group of unpublished writers who dream of making it in the publishing industry. It’s real life comedy and drama as they struggle to find positive contributions to author’s readings and encouragement in a sea of rejection letters, which is the part all writers can relate to. The part that I hope they cannot: when one of the group hits the big time and signs a book and movie deal, the rest of the group unravels with envy, the knives (or in this case the pens) come out, and they all show the dark side of their personalities.
The movie stars a fine ensemble cast featuring Chris Klein, Teri Polo, Dylan Walsh, Dennis Farina (in his last completed film), and Kaley Couco. It’s filmed documentary style, ala “The Office”, which works nicely because the confessions of the members are often stabbing and hilarious.
“Authors Anonymous” is well acted, and takes a realistic look at the publishing world (and the seedy side of self publishing), yet the movie is far from perfect. It’s too silly and predictable for that. Couco plays the dumb blonde who finds success, yet she freely admits she doesn’t deserve it. She’s uneducated, can’t name a favorite author though the documentary team consistently ask her to, never heard of F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway, and may have never read a book in her life.
The rest of the envious group features a husband and wife team (Walsh and Polo) who conjure up bad idea after bad idea, i.e. a novel about an eye doctor who is also a vampire, a man who wants to be the next Tom Clancy and decides to self publish (Farina), and a well-read literary type with plenty of talent, and a major case of writer’s block (Klein). This film should be dedicated to all of the writers in writing groups who never give up, even though chances are slim they’ll make it in this difficult industry.
The film won’t change the world or win any awards for excellence motion pictures, but it is an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes on a rainy spring afternoon. It arrives in select theaters in April in the U.S., and is also playing now on Comcast On Demand.