You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story Dir. Michael Wolk

[Plexifilm; 2008]

Endicott, New York is a sleepy suburb like so many. It was once a town on the verge of massive population growth, thanks to IBM, as streets were lined with state-of-the-art homes built by the hands of the Greatest Generation who hoped their children would continue the traditions they held so dear post-war. But sleepy towns breed sleeping giants. Not content to let the world pass them by as they toil in the family business, Endicott denizens work long and hard to find their own way, often with humorous consequences.

Gary Wilson — once a proud son of Endicott — made his own way in a town that was never prepared for his brand of Zappa-inspired folly. The group of boys and girls that flocked to his sunglass-bedecked face and Wayne Coyne personality were also lost in the glazed charm of Endicott; they were just looking for something to call their own. When they found it in Gary Wilson and the Blind Dates, there was no stopping the creative flow; songs, films, and skits ensued, all for the betterment of Gary Wilson’s musical genius.

What is supposed to be the story of every other band making the rounds in this modern musical era is in fact the story of a man lost for almost 30 years. While You Think You Really Know Me is ostensibly about the album of the same name, it's really about the circle Gary Wilson makes, from his Northeastern suburban confines to Western coastline and back again 30 years later. Wilson's transformation from a frustrated man, who was forced to disconnect his telephone after tiring of bad news, to a bright-eyed adolescent pulls the film away from the tropes of a traditional rock documentary and pushes toward a distinct life story.

While San Diego transformed Wilson into a man content to live out musical fantasies in lounge acts, a new opportunity lifts Wilson back up, dusts him off, and gives him a reason to be zany once again. Indeed, Wilson’s return to the stage is the highlight of the film. As with any vaudevillian, he hasn’t lost his touch. The top-notch performances find Wilson’s frenetic mind still as sharp and spindly as it was in his youth. San Diego may have beaten down his creativity, but the friendly confines of home bring out his best.

The tale of lost musical genius rediscovered may be nothing new, but Wilson’s grasp on hope and sanity is. That Wilson finally becomes a success story after 30 years of inactivity gives us all hope that dreams don’t die -- sometimes we just need a bit of luck and a lot of friends to achieve them.

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