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'Shooting the Warwicks' a flawed attempt at reality

'Shooting the Warwicks' a flawed attempt at reality
Writer and director Adam Rifkin poses in New York. In "Shooting the Warwicks", he plays producer Mickey Wagner, who concocts a television program featuring a family selected at random and filmed without its knowledge or consent. (Associated Press)

Ten half-hour episodes of the 2012 Showtime scripted series "Reality Show" have been winnowed into the feature-length "Shooting the Warwicks," but the movie can't do much to address the inherent flaws in the premise.

Producer Mickey Wagner (played by Adam Rifkin, who also writes and directs) concocts a television program featuring a family selected at random and filmed without its knowledge or consent. The production team lures family members away to Hawaii with a bogus sweepstakes prize, then seizes the opportunity to break into their home and conceal cameras inside and out.

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But like so many found-footage flicks, "Shooting the Warwicks" banks on its vérité style and glosses over the logistical implausibility: As the plot thickens, we see footage from places off-limits to the fictional TV crew — the office of Dennis Warwick (Scott Anderson), the spa that wife Katherine (Kelley Menighan Hensley) visits, the high school that daughter Amy (Monika Tilling) attends, even inside a police station.

"The Truman Show" (1998) and "Series 7: The Contenders" (2001) presciently examined the ethical pitfalls of reality television long before the format's saturation of pop culture. Although Rifkin briefly toys with a similar polemic against the genre's exploitative and sensationalistic nature, his effort devolves into the typical premium cable mix of gratuitous nudity and simulated sex.

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"Shooting the Warwicks"

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood. Also on VOD.

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