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Shot in the Dark
DVD disk
07.18.2011 By: Jason Adams
Shot in the Dark order
Director:
Adrian Grenier

Actors:
Adrian Grenier
Jonathan Davidson
Karesse Grenier

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
“Entourage” star Adrian Grenier attempts to discover the importance and meaning of fatherhood as he prepares to meet his own estranged dad for the first time in twenty years.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
On the surface, SHOT IN THE DARK sounds like the ultimate vanity project. Adrian Grenier, handsome star of HBO’s “Entourage,” finds his dad—and himself—and discovers the true meaning of love. But thankfully this documentary doesn’t stray in to that kind of territory. Started in 1999, before Grenier was really famous (he landed a role in the Melissa Joan Hart rom-com DRIVE ME CRAZY while they were shooting this), the movie feels more like a genuine personal journey infused with honesty and humor, as opposed to a maudlin tale of some guy’s daddy issues.

The film opens with Grenier interviewing strangers and friends about their ideas of fatherhood, speaking with people from all walks of life and relationships. There are healthy father-son duos attending baseball games all the way to a guy who claims Tupac was more of a dad to him than his own flesh and blood. It’s a little forced and obvious, but also interesting how the concept of a father can change from childhood to adulthood—breadwinner, protector, friend—while still staying the same.

But this is not a movie about other people’s patriarchs. SHOT IN THE DARK is all about Grenier’s journey to find and get to know his own father. There’s a lot of airing out of very personal, private information and family history and things can range from awkward to angry and heartfelt to painful. The one thing that really helps sell it and keep things comfortable is Grenier, who is likable and interesting throughout. The then 23 year old also has a decent sense of humor about it all, but is serious when he needs to be.

It’d be easy to vilify the father as a “character,” but Grenier and friend/co-director Jonathan Davidson go out of their way to remain fairly objective and hopeful—even when you realize Grenier doesn’t know basic things like how old his dad is. There’s surprisingly no heroes or villains here. The movie starts out almost as a love letter to Grenier’s mom and how she was a “father” to him in spite of her gender, but there’s a real sense of discovery as the actor learns things about both of his parents that truly changes his perspective. I won’t spoil anything, but SHOT IN THE DARK went places I wasn’t expecting and makes for a rather compelling and emotional documentary.
THE EXTRAS
The special features here actually mean something, offering updates on characters and situations or providing even more back story.

Commentary by Adrian Grenier, Jonathan Davidson and Jim Mol: The actor is joined by his friends/filmmakers, so everyone obviously has a great chemistry. There’s some space between the recording and the time in which the documentary was filmed, so the added perspective is nice as the trio remembers and updates on the situation.

“Drive Me Crazy” Music Video Behind the Scenes: Grenier starred in this Britney Spears music video while in the middle of the documentary and he’s bold enough to ask Melissa Joan Hart and Britney Spears to comment on his search for his father. It’s really quite amusing (especially seeing a younger naïve Spears).

Are You My Daddy: A decade later Grenier goes to see his friend and co-producer Jonathan Davidson who has his own child and gets to see firsthand how being a father has changed the filmmaker.

10 Years Later: Updates Via Skype: Grenier chats with both sets of parents to see how they’re doing 10 years later. [SPOILERS] They still have a good relationship and we learn that Debbie and John actually adopted two daughters and didn’t want them included in the film initially. That footage is included here and fills in a lot of gaps. Karesse and Bob are married and also happy.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I don’t think I’d ever need to watch it again, but SHOT IN THE DARK was a surprisingly emotional documentary made more interesting by its now famous subject. (It’s also something potential fathers should watch to see the importance of just “being there.”) Coupled with special features that update everything a decade later, this is worth a rental if the subject matter interests you.

Extra Tidbit: According to Grenier, the film is called SHOT IN THE DARK both because of the chance he’s taking getting back in touch with his dad, as well as the literal sexual act that led to his creation.
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