Day is done by the time Day is Done is done.
First, I am angry at the audacity of anyone who creates a film 169 minutes long and seriously expects people to sit through it. Second, I am angry at myself for sitting through it. Mike Kelley’s film Day is Done is an extremely odd and seemingly random collection of short scenes (AKA Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstructions) depicting scenarios like a Mary contest (yes, THAT Mary), a child’s haircut gone awry, Satan doing raunchy stand-up, a vampire just back from sick leave, and a bunch of stereotypes arguing at a singles meeting. The scenes were edited together so that we would get a bit here and a bit there. Although we would stumble back on characters, I can’t say that there was any cohesion and certainly no plot propelling the audience to the end. Those watching were never quite sure what was coming up next or which characters you would never see again.
There was no real range of reaction in the theater – it was either long stretch of silence or a handful of laughter. Actors dressed in dime store vampire costumes is funny for, like, a second, but even that second exists in my kid brother’s high school life, and not in mine. Truly, though, despite the occasional giggles, I don’t know that “funny” was necessarily the intent. There were a number of utterly ridiculous scenarios which were humorous, like the 1970s-esque pop star crooning a duet with himself on a split screen, the argument Garth Brooks vs. R. Kelly vs. Gene Simmons, or the silly dancing horse costumes, but I can’t imagine the goal was to create a 169 minute laugh riot. The remaining scenes can also be described as ridiculous, but they did not exude humor.
My three least favorite scenarios were certainly not funny. In fact, I became increasingly agitated whenever a scene depicting any of the following characters popped back on the screen: 1) a vampire and death (or whatever she was) verbally wanking off in the woods by a brook; 2) a young man in really shabby drag verbally wanking off alone in a forest; and 3) an ogre in a polo shirt gutturally wanking off under a bridge. I will admit that the absurdity of the polo shirt ogre walking through a dead bush instead of just going around it maybe made me smile. But, I want to know why he did that? Why?
To be fair, there may have been a few things I enjoyed. Like the train of three girls in whiteface and black leotards shuffling their way off to Buffalo through the halls of an empty school. The chugga-chugging of the accompanying music was catchy. And, while I am not putting the Day is Done soundtrack on my Christmas list, I do commend Kelley and his collaborator Scott Benzel on a multitude of inventive, sardonic songs that helped pass some of the time.
The experience as a whole was like channel surfing every public access station in the country for hours. While I applaud the dedication of the artist who can make his ideas come to life, in this instance I felt that I gave away my (sunny Portland!) afternoon and didn’t get much in return. But, to quote one of an endless supply of this film’s characters, maybe the show is “just too sophisticated for my taste.”