To those easily offended by adult content or nudity - you should probably steer clear of this film. But, for the rest of us out there who don't mind some onscreen nudity and hijinks, Davo Hardy's "Public Eye" is an excellent example of the beauty of indie film. The ability to tell a story with budgeting aside, no restrictions. If full nudity, male and female, offends you - don't be a dick. Move on.
With that out of the way, let me run down the bare basics of this incredibly dense plot. For around six years, Elliot has been the host of a respectably popular kids show, and life is pretty good - although his big dream of A-List stardom seems to have eluded him. That is until he becomes short-listed as the potential leading actor for a big-budget drama. The catch? There's a little tiny scene involving full-frontal nudity.
As Elliot fishes around his family and friends for advice and support, he gets a spur-of-the-moment idea while preparing to wank himself to contentment. What would happen if he live-streamed his ... event. One time, one and done. Perhaps then he would be more used to the idea of someone looking at his ... junk. Personally, the idea is horrible, and I can easily imagine people paying me to "stop," but for Elliot? Sure, I can understand it. Only, as is so often the case, things don't quite work the way you imagine they will, and in this case, Elliot's "one and done" live show was recorded and then spewed out all over the internet. Overnight, the host of the kids' show goes viral for all the wrong reasons and Elliot, and his family, have to deal with the devastating "real world" consequences. Honestly? "Public Eye" is the ultimate internet-based cautionary tale - told with a flair for adult humor and an assload of drama. So what did I think of the film? I believe my rating says it all.
I'm not going to lie. The premise of "Public Eye" instantly reminded me of Pee-Wee Herman and Paul Reubens' legal troubles in the early nineties and again being equally honest? That wasn't even a bad thing. But it's safe to write that there's much more to this film than some rehashing of an old story. In a very realistic and often gritty way, "Public Eye" transcends the old Pee-Wee headlines in almost every way. Then again, a lot has changed since then, and sadly, a lot has not. With characters such as "Karen" in this film, viewers get an awesome front view seat of how our modern world really is. I also loved that she was named Karen, by the way - nice touch. But everything in this film, from the aforementioned Karen to the possible legal issues of the television station, to Elliot's family, felt spot on. Hardy's film really does take an unflinching look at public perception, the dangers of the internet, real-world assholes, and everything in the middle. The internet is forever, and it's incredibly easy to make a spur-of-the-moment decision that will affect you permanently.
With all that said, let me go back to something I wrote at the start of all this. This movie is dense. To touch on all the ideas and themes in this film would require four or five separate writeups, and "Public Eye" is, perhaps, a little long and heavy on the themes. Another thing I noticed is that this movie does a great job of showing how fake and unlikable the real world actually is. There are not many likable people in this flick, and even more disturbing is that pretty much everyone has some secret. The revelation at the end of the film regarding Elliot's TV show sidekick was perhaps the worst, but nobody in this movie is safe. Like Dr. House is fond of saying: everybody lies. On the one hand, it's a brutally realistic take on the world but on the other hand...
When it's all said and done, I can easily write that "Public Eye" was a great film. Well written, excellently acted, and often slicker than its first impressions. Hardy's movie is marketed as a comedy. Although there are most definitely jokes, I would peg it as more of a drama - those who are into dramatic works should definitely not alienate themselves from this film. Easily, in my opinion, four stars, and I'll admit I flirted with the four and a half star rating. In the end, however, it was just a tad longer than I felt it needed to be. But still, four stars is definitely something to write home about.