Matthew Bate’s Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure has shown at a number of festivals this year after premiering at Sundance, but I’ve managed to miss it time and again. The film’s newly-released first trailer makes me feel pretty damn bad about that.
Drawing on a conceit that almost anyone can relate to, at least on the outset, the documentary looks to shift into some strange and interesting new territories. The film tells the story of Eddie and Mitch, two regular dudes who clearly liked to party, and the crappy apartment they moved into back in ’80s San Francisco. As is typically the case with less-than-stellar living situations, the boys found out within mere minutes of signing their lease that they had more to deal with than just the hideous paint in their new “shithole,” they had a couple of whacked-out neighbors who would occasionally get loud. And by “occasionally,” I mean constantly, and by “get loud,” I mean that it’s amazing that their knock-down, drag-out verbal assaults didn’t ever crumble those disgusting pink walls.
Meet Raymond and Peter, Mitch and Eddie’s neighbors. Peter is a homosexual. Raymond is a homophobe. They’re both quite vocal about their disdain for each other. Also, they’re both alcoholics. Bet you’re glad you still live at home, amirite? What first sprang from fear soon turned into an underground sensation, as a terrified Eddie and Mitch began surreptitiously recording Raymond and Peter’s fights via a microphone in their kitchen window. Instead of recording hours and hours of audio that would later be played at their funerals after Raymond and Peter freaked out and killed them, the dudes’ tapes turned into “sensations on the underground tape market” (not to be confused with the huge and overwhelmingly dangerous black market for Beta). From there, the tapes became a bit of a pop culture earworm.
The first trailer for Shut Up Little Man! is well-crafted and focuses more on the wacky journey the tapes take Eddie and Mitch on, not so much on the crackerjacks drunks that lived next door to them for 18 months. It’s funny and weird and it oddly illuminates the world’s appetite for strange memes before the Internet made the word “meme,” well, an actual word.
Shup Up Little Man! will open in selected theaters on August 26, with a continued roll-out through September.