So once again we have survived.

I Think We’re Alone Now

tn_ithinkwerealonenowI THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW is an hour long documentary following Jeff and Kelly, two fans of the ’80s teen pop singer Tiffany. While most of us forgot Tiffany existed until we read that she was teaming with Debbie Gibson for MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID, these two remained dedicated fans the whole time. Jeff continued to follow her career long after she fell off the map. He went to all her shows around Santa Cruz, went to every autograph show she did, collected magazine articles, wrote her letters, etc. And by etc. I mean that in ’88 he got arrested at a courthouse trying to give Tiffany some flowers and a samurai sword, and the year after that she got a restraining order against him. In the opening scene he sarcastically reads an old magazine article about it and laughs when they use his full name and call him a “stalker.” He thinks the whole thing has been blown out of proportion. But, you know, most of us don’t end up in any situations that could be blown into those particular proportions.

mp_ithinkwerealonenowSo this isn’t just a big nerd who’s taking a celebrity crush a little too far. He’s literally one of those weirdos (or “wackadoos” as he would say) who you read little blurbs about in the newspaper and get creeped out. This movie is amazing because it peers into the life of this guy and makes him sympathetic.

At first Jeff doesn’t seem crazy. He just seems like one of those old retired guys who talks too damn much. He says he has Asperger’s Syndrome, and that’s why he’ll go up to strangers and tell them in detail about “a bunch of lesbians” climbing on stage the last time Tiffany played the Santa Cruz boardwalk and what the security guards did about it, or hold up a musical performance at church to tell the guitar player about his experiences at a nude model autograph show and how everyone there was filled with Christ’s love. He’s the type of guy who will laugh about not being one of those weirdos asking for a lock of hair, a fingernail or a scab moments before admitting that he might actually do that but just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. But he’s not some freaky Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson type. If there was a movie about Jeff he’d have to be played by Fred Willard – he’s exactly that type of friendly, outgoing, corny guy, sharing too much information but with enthusiasm and a big laugh that’s contagious. And that makes it even more uncomfortable when you’re laughing with him and then he starts talking about his friendship with Tiffany or that he prays for her husband or whatever.

Kelly hasn’t gotten as close to Tiffany, she hasn’t gotten arrested for her or tried to give her a deadly weapon. But honestly she seems like more of a mess than Jeff. She looks like a transexual, but claims to be a hermaphrodite who identifies as a woman, and she’s not really good at passing so she obviously has some trouble fitting in. She says when she was a teenager she had a bicycle accident that put her in a coma, and when she woke up the first thing she heard was a song from Tiffany. She hadn’t heard of Tiffany before but had her sister bring her a photo and ever since then has felt she was meant to be with her. Luckily she hasn’t showed up at Tiffany’s house or anything, but she does seem very serious about this and gets real emotional talking about it.

Both Jeff and Kelly have friends who talk to the cameras and vouch for them as being good people. Jeff, for example, has a friend who also has Asberger’s Syndrome, he admits that Jeff is eccentric but talks about what a good friend he is to anyone and how he’s always positive and makes you feel good about yourself. And that really comes through in the movie, you can definitely see that, he seems like a really nice and funny guy.

Then the friend starts saying crazy shit and you think whoah, wait a minute, weren’t you supposed to be the normal person vouching for this guy? They’re both into Tesla and shit, and Jeff shows us his helmet that’s specially tuned for him to, you know, communicate with Tiffany spiritually, even more than he normally does due to the connection he already has with her. (It’s worse if you watch the deleted scenes, which reveal that Jeff’s friend believes Jeff and Tiffany were arranged to marry each other by distant Lebanese cousins but that Tiffany’s parents pulled out of the deal because they thought Jeff wasn’t successful enough and that’s why he’s still stuck on her.)

Then, part way through the movie, Jeff and Kelly meet, and they take a trip to Vegas together to see Tiffany at a casino. Kelly is at a really low moment in her life and it makes you appreciate Jeff more to see how nice and encouraging he is to her. She’s really just such a bummer to be around, but he stays upbeat and tries to get her spirits up. It seems like when he just talked to her on the phone he might’ve hoped he was gonna get lucky, and was disappointed to see that she’s kind of like a dude. (He calls her a “him” because “when you’re dealing with a hermaphrodite you get to choose.”) But he also seems immediately accepting of her, and his sweetness and craziness are combined when he tells her he’s going to talk to put in a good word for her with Tiffany’s people.

There are three or four scenes in the movie where Jeff sees Tiffany face to face and talks to her, and more than once I had to cover my eyes. This is an incredibly uncomfortable movie at times – it honestly made me cringe alot more than HUMAN CENTIPEDE did. But it really shows you the tragedy of the situation. These two are obviously mentally ill and have had problems going back to at least their relationships with their Vietnam vet fathers. They’re lonely and confused and they’re gonna fixate on something, and for both of them it happened to be this red-headed girl going around singing in malls in the late ’80s. They called that music “bubble gum” because it was inconsequential, pre-packaged, designed for kids, nothing but air in the middle. But to these two troubled individuals she represented something more important than anything else in the world, and that’s kind of freaky. I honestly believe that both of them are harmless, but then again I could be wrong. Anybody in Tiffany’s situation would be wise to get the fuck out of there just to be safe. I kind of wish she had kept the samurai sword for protection. And also because it would look cool if she was singing at casinos with a sword on her back. Jeff might’ve had the right idea about that, I’m starting to see what he was going for with that. Anyway there’s one scene where Kelly gets really pissed off that nobody seems to be living in this same reality where she’s destined to be with Tiffany, and she really seems pretty scary for a minute there.

Believe it or not I actually kind of know a guy who gets similarly obsessed with young female singers. He’s more obviously mentally impaired than these guys and he’s very childlike. He’s just kind of a goofball when you’re talking to him but he always knows how to throw you a curveball to make you squirm, like asking you why the security for the Indigo Girls are so rude. Every time to talk to him you find some new piece of strangeness going on in his head, like for example he wants Elvis to use karate on his dad and he holds a violent grudge against a guy who played a saxophone solo he hated at a Gordon Lightfoot concert in the ’70s. But the more you talk to him the more you see that he’s just a big baby who doesn’t know any better. You become protective of him, you worry that other people see what a big weirdo he is but don’t see that he means well. If he got busted trying to give a samurai sword to Jewel I’d think oh, you guys don’t understand, he’s not gonna do anything. But I’m sure somebody thought that about other stalkers that really did snap. You really don’t know if they’re, like DMX said, gonna lose their minds up in here up in here.

But it’s not just a scary movie. It’s sweet too. Jeff and Kelly somehow manage to talk to Tiffany after the show and get their pictures taken, and for Kelly it’s like a religious experience. It really seems like these two nutballs are gonna help each other out, as Kelly seems almost ready to accept kissing Tiffany on the cheek as good enough and Jeff raves about her non-judgmental love like she’s Jesus. And I started to almost believe that as long as they kept their distance this might be a good thing, that a little gesture from this poor lady could bring such profound joy to their broken lives. But of course it’s not gonna work out. Jeff goes into another one of his stories about “I remember the first time Tiffany reached out and kissed me on the cheek in front of over five hundred people” blah blah blah and Kelly gets jealous and snaps at him. I guess you can’t always expect two insane people to have a healthy friendship.

I believe this movie is sincerely meant as a humanizing portrait and not a freak show. I do think there’s one scene that probly should’ve been cut out. After a long intro where Kelly talks about her life being based around running and athletics she does a demonstration of her running skills that’s straight out of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE or something, and you realize she’s not good at the one thing she thinks she’s good at. I mean, it’s funny, but I don’t see any reason to put it in there other than to laugh at or be freaked out by her. So that was a little mean. You could make the same argument for the scene where she does a terrible impression of Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live, but at least that scene shows that she can laugh and have fun and not just mope like she does in most of the movie. It made me uncomfortable but kind of made me like her more too.

There’s alot that’s mysterious about the movie. There are two commentary tracks on the DVD, but one is Jeff and one is Kelly, there’s nothing from the filmatists. So I’m not sure how they found out about these people, if hooking up Jeff and Kelly was completely their doing, or most importantly what Tiffany thinks of all this. Does she not realize this is the guy who tried to give her the sword that she had the restraining order against? Does she realize it and just try to get through these encounters? Or has she decided he’s harmless and learned to just deal with him? I have no idea.

But whatever exactly is going on I thought it was fascinating to watch and it brought me through the gamut of emotions. It’s interesting people in a world I never knew existed. It even has some nice looking digital photography, they’ve gotten much better with that these days. That adds up to good hour long documentary.

I gotta say though (SPOILER) the ending is a bit of a downer. Fuckin weirdo Jeff fakes you out by saying all this stuff like he’s realized the error of his ways, then you find out he’s just starting over with a new obsession. Hint #1: if you look his name up on Google you can find out which celebrity has a restraining order against him now. Hint #2: He doesn’t seem to understand why it’s weird for him to send Alyssa Milano’s parents a card for their 40th wedding anniversary.

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Why not a trailer?

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 1:18 am and is filed under Documentary, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

43 Responses to “I Think We’re Alone Now”

  1. children behaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaave, that’s what they say when we’re together

    I’ve wanted to see this ever since I first heard about it on AICN a while back

  2. Sometimes I dream that Beyonce kisses me on the cheek. We’re meant to be together, just waiting for that loser Jay-Z to go away, should be any day now, he doesn’t understand her, what does he have that I don’t oh Beyonce I’ll wait for you

  3. unfortunately, this is not on Netflix, has it come out on dvd yet?

  4. and Tesla is like catnip for crazy people, because himself was a true mad genius

  5. Never seen or heard of this, but I may check it out. Thanks Vern!

    Having not seen or heard of the movie though, I have to say that this title was wasted on a documentary. Could’ve been the best title for a bad horror movie ever.

  6. Whoa, I gotta see this

  7. Jareth Cutestory

    August 31st, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Griff: On West 25th Street in New York there’s a small statue of Tesla in the courtyard of a church. A few days ago I saw a guy kneeling in front of it shouting “I await your instructions, master. Tell me what you need me to build.” It might have been an isolated incident. Or maybe Tesla figured out a way to transmit instructions from beyond the grave.

  8. Vern – I trust we will be seeing a review of Python v Gatoroid?

    I will make an aluminum foil helmet just to watch it.

  9. ha, i thought he meant they were both into Tesla the band, not Nikolai Tesla the scientist…

  10. The artist formerly known as AU_Armageddon

    August 31st, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Nice find, good review.

  11. The DVD came out today in many parts of the world. The movie’s websight gives this link if you want to purchase it:

    http://www.seeofsound.com/p.php?s=MVD5031D

  12. I was at Tower Records in Vegas a long time ago and there was this big tour bus out front. My friends and I had no clue what was going on. Turns out it was Tiffany signing her new Playboy issue for all her fans. Of course I bought a copy and had it signed. I wanted to ask her to sign it, “To Jared, I think we’re alone now” but I didn’t have the balls. I also got my picture taken with her. Do I get any points for this?

  13. Jared – 10 points. 10 more if you had attempted that ballsy move, but the rejection/awkwardness would have cost you the photo and maybe even sig, which would have deducted your other points. Good score otherwise.

    And as a guy, asking other dudes, I must ask: outside of brand-name value, is Playboy even relevant?

    I’m sure the current kids out there will laugh at our younger, teenage selves back in the day making a big deal out of catching a boobie at a movie or sneaking a peek at a nudie mag at the 7-11 or good ole scrambled porn. After they’re donelaughing, current kids go back to nudietube or asstube or whatever it us they use.

  14. Reminds me of this story I heard about a european popstar who had a concert, and when she went out on stage to begin, discovered this one guy had bought up ALL the seats in the venue, and it was just him sitting there alone, and he asked her to marry him.

    “Believe it or not I actually kind of know a guy who gets similarly obsessed with young female singers.”
    I thought for a second you were going to say “believe it or not I actually kind of know how he feels” and we’d suddenly get a disturbing revelation about your level of Seagalogy, like Seagal won’t answer your letters where you ask him to throw you throw some window or some other form of glass fixture.

  15. You never have to ask Seagal to throw you through a window. By the time you got the words out, you’d already be outside on the sidewalk with glass sticking out of your palms.

  16. Majestyk – interesting off-topic Seagal fact. In every one of Seagal’s fights that I can recall (and I’ve just watched Kill Switch, there’s some supposedly brutal ones in there – “supposedly” because you can’t see what the hell is going on) I don’t remember anybody ever actually having been cut by glass.

    “Marked For Death” especially stands out because of the Screwface vs Seagal fight – Seagal gets his face pushed through layers of glass at least three times that I counted, yet never has so much as a cut on him. Bizarrely this tends to apply to the bad guys as well – they get some punishing-looking broken limbs, teeth knocked out, etc, but never cut. Maybe it’s an anti-Buddhist thing?

    (Now I wait for the entire forum to prove me wrong.)

  17. That’s because there’s an unbreakable law of movie physics that goes something like this: Being thrown through or falling on glass is perfectly harmless, but having glass thrown at you or falling on you can kill you. Keep this in mind should you ever find yourself trapped in an action movie: You moving + glass stationary = safe; glass moving + you stationary = deadly.

    Seagal is in fact doing you a favor when he throws you through a window because the glass breaks your fall. If he really wanted to hurt you, he’d throw the window through you.

  18. …dammit, I’m going to have to check if Jackie Chan gets cut up by that glass in Police Story, which I suspect he does.

  19. In rare cases, being thrown through glass can cut you, but it can never kill you. The most common location for this kind of injury is just above the left eyebrow.

  20. still waiting on a thank you note after I sent Geddy Lee those nunchucks.

  21. Great review, and the movie seems really interesting, to boot.

    There’s a great claymation asperger’s syndrome movie called Mary and Max that is available on the ole Netflix instant watch, and I can highly recommend it, especially on the heels of this gem.

  22. or was that Max and Mary? One of the two…

  23. [somethingsomething hardcore story about that time I did something hardcore involving broken glass and dead Arabssomethingsomething]

  24. If Robocop throws you through glass, your face will be cut.

    “Just give me my fucking phone call.”

  25. -Mouth. Ohh come on! You can’t just wander in here, say something like that, then leave us all hanging.

  26. Wow, I actually saw this back when it was posted online to watch on AintItCool during Fantastic Fest several years back. Vern’s reading is pretty spot on.

  27. RRA – you’d be surprised (20 years old fyi), I actually prefer just simple pictures of nude women like Playboy as opposed to pixelated videos of some kinda ugly chick getting rammed by a bunch of guys who probably had to inject liquid Viagra into their Johnsons

    not saying I’ve never watched porn, but I still prefer stuff like Playboy and judging by the large amounts of it that I’ve found on several forums I’m not alone

    and I wouldn’t laugh at you guys anyway because I didn’t always have the internet, I can still clearly remember spending hours watching the movie channels like HBO and Showtime just to catch some all too brief glimpses of nudity (Private School was one of my favorites, God bless Betsey Russell)

  28. Vern, your documentary reviews always make me want to find and watch these movies (the last one I remember was Confessions of the Superheros), so thanks for another suggestion. Seems like you watch a lot of documentaries about kind of tragically delusional people, or maybe they just make a lot of those. Possibly because there are lots of interesting delusional people who like the attention.

    Also, I looked to see if you had reviewed Grizzly Man, and saw you had a review for Trekkies, and man, you go a lot easier on the Tiffany stalkers than you did on the Star Trek fanboys. It was almost AU_Armageddonesque.

  29. Fucking Private School! That movie will always have a special place in the part of my brain that triggers boners.

    God bless Betsy Russell, indeed!

  30. Man, it sounds so unfair when you put it like that Ebonic Plague. That’s why it’s good not to put star ratings on reviews too, to avoid that kind of ranking. “So you’re telling me dentists obsessed with Star Trek are one star but people arrested for giving swords to Tiffany get one and a half? THAT’S BULLSHIT!”

  31. I also like how Private School has a way more epic group shower scene than Porky’s, set to “I want candy” no less

  32. yeah i read about this film when it was in the festival here last year. i thought – i bet that is a really well made and excellent film. i also thought – i bet it is an absolute squirmfest that will leave me depressed for weeks.

  33. Sorry Vern, I’m honestly not trying to troll your critic standards of consistency or anything, and I know you tell it like it is, but this review brought that movie (and others like Grizzly Man) to my mind, and I was just surprised (and amused) how it was the mullet-headed trekkie kid that got your blood boiling over all the other freaks from all the other freakshow-type documentaries.

    The bit about AU_Armageddon was more of a cheap shot though, my bad.

  34. At least Timothy Treadwell got himself eaten. What an asshole. And thats my problem with these documentaries, I just want these people to die. Thats why I can’t watch them anymore. They make me into a nasty piece of shit. I was glad Treadwell got munched on, but very upset for his poor girlfriend.

  35. ebonic plague: Vern’s TREKKIES review has one of my favorite phrases in it: “Straighten the bitch out before he goes permanent!” I repeat that phrase as often as possible. You can apply it to almost anything.

    In a better world, nerds would be shouting that phrase at each other instead of: “Get to the chopper.” If Vern was a musician, that phrase would be his “Brothers Gonna Work It Out.”

  36. Man, even the trailer was uncomfortable to watch. I don’t know if I can take an entire movie of that.

    By the way, I don’t know if it was an intentional move from whoever put the trailer together, but when that chick/dude was putting on make-up and the music was playing, I got flashbacks from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

  37. Thanks for this Vern. My favorite part was when Kelly told Jeff to shutup. True, he did come off as a nice guy (a bit crazed), but when the scene with him and Tiffany came up, he just came off as an asshole, trying to touch her and not letting her go.

    Just goes to show that you can be crazy and still be an asshole.

  38. GOODBYE HOOOOOOORSES, I’M FLYING OVER YOUUUUU!!

  39. Griff:
    That was my favorite song to play on GTA IV while driving around and shooting people out my window. I’m not sure what that says about me.

  40. The artist formerly known as AU_Armageddon

    September 2nd, 2010 at 11:21 am

    *Calm down Artist formerly known as AU, just calm down. We don’t have to annihilate everyone who looks at us do we? Deep breaths. No, no. It’s okay. Yes, I know he is. He probably does that too, yes. Serenity now. You’re right of course – I know it’s the guy who either posts those sitcom one liners without the punch part, like ‘he crane kicked that hipster into a douchebag’ … or he posts those links so dry even a golfer wouldn’t swing at them, but we remember what the sweet lady said yes? No, not are you talkin’ to me. She said life was like a box a chocolates. No, that was someone else who said say hello to my little friend. Good. There now. That’s right. We’ll always have Paris…*

  41. The artist formerly known as AU_Armageddon

    September 2nd, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Very astute ebonic. Vern had me at fuckjob, but I have to say that kid really reminded me of Paul, except smart.

  42. Total Coincidence:

    Just re-read the Don’t Go in the House review:

    “Poor Donny is all alone up there in the house. What he needs is a positive influence in his life, somebody to balance out the negative influence of the voices in his head. Surprisingly there’s actually a guy at work, Bobby (Robert Osth), who tries to look out for him. Sort of the Sue Snell of the story. He must just be a nice guy because he goes out of his way to stick up for Donny at work and to call him up to invite him for beers or coffee or something, just checking in, trying to get him to talk about his problems.”

    Univeral themes.

  43. That kid in Trekkies wasn’t crazy, he was just a monumentally huge asshole. Being harsh in a criticism of that guy has no bearing on this review.

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