(Sounds tantalizing, doesn't it?) A documentary film about a contest at a truck dealership in Texas. As one of the contestants (a previous winner, come back to try his luck again) said,

"It's a human drama."

The basic idea is that the contestants must remain standing with one hand on a brand-new hardbody pickup. Whomever is left after this gruelling experience may be crazy, but wins the truck anyway.

It's fascinating. It's hard to stop watching. After hours and hours, people are just losing their minds. But still they continue. Emotions run high (this is the mother of all all-nighters). It's hard to tell whether this movie gives you more or less faith in humanity.

"Hands on a Hard Body", a documentary by S. R. Bindler, showed for what could have been more than a year at the Dobie Theater in Austin, Texas, consistently filling the theater. I think it was the longest-running film of anything to show at the Dobie.

When I saw this show, the audience's reaction was as fascinating as the movie. At first, they regarded the contestants as laughable, simple-minded hicks. Earnest on-screen interviews with these folks evoked knowing and superior chuckles and guffaws from the crowd.

As the story progressed, though, the audience became completely drawn in. By interspersing the contest footage in which, basically, not much happens, with personal stories, the filmmaker kept everyone's interest and let them identify with the contestants. All the audience members picked a favorite, and were crushed when their pick had to drop out of the contest. There were still plenty of comic moments, but we found ourselves laughing with the people on the screen, not at them.

This 1998 documentary by S.R. Bindler plays up the Texas stereotype beautifully. Texans get a great chance to laugh at themselves, and without a doubt, everyone else gets to laugh at Texas. If American Movie cracked you up, then watch Hands on a Hard Body soon. Viewing this film exposes you to people gathering in Longview, Texas and the mentalities that will win them
(or so they think) a new truck. One contestant explains a pair of tennis shoes and Snickers bars are the key to success. Benny Perkins(1992 contest winner) compares the contest to the movie the Highlander,"There can be only one." Common sense steps out of the film in many places, especially a supporter's explanation of how a Target AC unit on a double wide trailer WILL cool it below freezing. There is a lot more to laugh at in this great look at small town Texas.

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