Clean Freak (2008)

(Premiere Date: March 01, 2008 [Lake County Film Festival])

Ah, Chris, as Granny Macek used to say... "You're a Mess!"

J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!!!

It's July 4th of 2008, I've been sick with an annoying summer cold for the past three days. Meaning, I've got Germs. We're moving, by the way, for the first time in almost a decade into a house we are actually buying (another first). There are boxes everywhere... it's quite annoying! I'm desperately trying to finalize my latest (and, for a while, last) "Season", known as Indie and Spring 2008. This means I need to review the latest film by Chris Hansen, known as Clean Freak! Notice, I say "need to" as opposed to "have to", because with Chris Hansen the best term would be "get to". Chris Hansen's last film The Proper Care and Feeding of an American Messiah was an excellent and hilarious mockumentary (which featured some very well-chosen quotes on the DVD, once released). Therefore I don't "have to" review Clean Freak on this, the last day of Indie and Spring... I "get to"!

There's just one problem... I can't find it. It was right here. RIGHT HERE... on this pile of... envelopes, books, Lynelle's laptop, other DVDs... well I suppose this isn't really a pile of anything specific, then is it? I guess that makes this a... mess. But I'll tell you what it's not a pile of... It's not a pile of Chris Hansen DVDs. Where'd that thing go? Man, I just had this same issue with my wallet. You've got to be kidding me. Let me... organize this, move these DVDs out of the way and... then... these papers and... oh, hey, there's Hot Fuzz! I've been looking for that... and... no, it's still not there... So let me just "Humph!" lift up this couch here (I do that... I work out a lot now). Ah... there it is... along with a lot of... ew. I guess we're not getting our cleaning deposit back. Good thing we're buying the next place! Sheesh.

Part of 2008's
Indie and Spring!

Now, you may think the above paragraphs are just a set-up to introduce Clean Freak (which they are, let's face it, I didn't start Awaken The Dead's review with the fact that I found it behid a speaker, did I?), but, sadly, it's true. While I may have egotistically named myself "The World's Greatest Critic", I couldn't even pretend to be the world's most organized. I'm no clean freak. Chris Hansen, apparently, is.

The film's opening credits (and the front cover of the DVD Screener) openly state that Clean Freak is "a film by (and about) Chris Hansen". It goes on to refer to itself as "a solipsistic, navel-gazing documentary about one man's obsession with a clean house". Yes, for this one (which actually is a Documentary, as opposed to a Mockumentary) Chris Hansen steps in front of the camera this time. Where the results of this exercise could have come off as serious, even depressing in its introspective nature, I'm cautiously happy to report that Clean Freak is also a hilarious film in most every part. "Cautiously", because it's not always easy to tell when Hansen is being serious and when he isn't. There's no question that a good many of the scenes here were staged, both for impact and humor. On the other hand, the film is better for these scenes and (staged or not) the impression here is that these are dramatized reenactments or even representations of real things that might not be easy to simply "spontaneously" put on film!

Of course, Hansen has only twenty-seven minutes with which to make his point in this Documentary Short, but he does it with style, class and humor. Not to mention a self-effacing nature made all the more stinging with the scenes he chooses. Hansen traces his OCD back to his parents and supports this with a few comedic interviews with Mom, Dad and brother Jim, not to mention one must-see reenactment of a certain defining moment from their childhood, involving sugar, water and a flood. Hoo-boy.

Hansen also interviews a few other people who suffer from more severe forms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Yes, he takes the affliction seriously, but he also makes a few humorous observations along the way. You know, sort of like an Aggie telling Aggie jokes all the time. Oh, wait, can I make that reference with a Baylor man?

Some of Clean Freak's best moments are the frank and realistic interviews with his family (including his wife and three daughters). The film is at its most obvious and least natural during some of the set-up moments, however. Obvious or not, they're no less funny (the "touch-therapy" scene is a keeper, as is the "revelations" concerning "St. John's Wort"). They merely blur the line between Documentary and Mockumentary. I half expected one of the interviewees to be Tony Hale. The difference here is that Hansen not only means well, but he brings his good intentions, well-formed to the screen in a fun, varied story that pokes the most fun at Hansen himself. And for a number of reasons, that just, plain works.

Okay, maybe this one isn't quite up to the level of American Messiah, but I seriously doubt Chris Hansen would take issue with that statement either. This is a very different kind of movie, a short, not a feature and comes from a very different place in the fertile mind of Christopher J. Hansen. Any way you slice it (katana, hatchet, ginsu or potato-peeler), Clean Freak is a very worthwhile film, fully worth Four Stars out of Five. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to clean up and finish packing up this place, not to mention close out the Season of the Independents... on Independence Day! So, Chris, once we're settled in to the new place, you want to come over for dinner? Chris?

... Chris?

Aw, man. See you in the next reel.

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Clean Freak (2008) reviewed by J.C. Maçek III
Who is solely responsible for the content of this site...
And for the fact that his disorders are not quite "Next to Godliness!"
Nor does he want to talk about them here.
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