Review: Documentary 'Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie' Feels Like An Outsider's Perspective
It’s always hard to create a thorough documentary when the person being dissected has passed on. It then falls to family, friends and co-workers to paint a picture that hopefully gives sound to an empty voice. Sometimes that voice is heard loud and clear and sometimes not. In the case of the new documentary "Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie," the film is not unlike the circus spectacle the famed talk show host was so famous for creating – big, bawdy, but simply for show.
Back in the 80’s, chain smoking talk show host Morton Downey Jr. was the king of controversial. His in-your-face rants, guest bashing and overall need to impose his view no matter what the cost made him an instant celeb for the average guy who was fed up. But his rise and fall both came with equal speed – what was the real story behind the “Father of Trash Television?”
Problem with this doc is that question is not really answered in any sort of succinct way. Through a series of colleagues (the love/hate attraction evidenced by Gloria Allred is truly palpable!), fellow TV show workers and fans, Downey Jr. is given a troubled persona. But frankly it’s a smoke and mirrors deal – nobody can truly speak out about the man and his motivations. (Did he fake the bathroom attack by supposed neo-Nazis - who knows!) Downey Jr. had a personal life for sure, but it’s not explored here. (Not hearing from Lori Downey is an elephant in the room!) There are certainly hints and speculation about his shady character and questionable behavior off camera, but nobody has direct knowledge and as a result the doc feels like it’s being told from an outsider’s perspective.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s footage from his original shows that probably hasn’t seen the light of days in decades and for that alone there’s gold within indeed. But as a fully fleshed out doc, an in-depth examination of the man known as Mort The Mouth, the surface ridden Evocateur is sadly tight lipped.
"EVOCATEUR: THE MORTON DOWNEY JR. MOVIE" HITS SELECT THEATRES JUNE 7 FROM MAGNOLIA PICTURES
Stars: 2 1/2
Cast: Morton Downey Jr., Sally Jessy Raphael, Gloria Allred
Director: Seth Kramer / Daniel A. Miller / Jeremy Newberger
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Company: Magnolia Pictures
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