Review: ‘Google Me’

It all started when he Googled his name. Unlike the rest of us, he didn’t stop there.

Jim Killeen claims to be a sort of everyman (the single kind, specifically) who one day decided to look up his own name on Google. Finding articles about other people named “Jim Killeen,” he decided to not only pursue interviews with his other namesakes but also document the effort. How likely would other Jim Killeens be willing to tell another namesake his life story, answer a few questions, or even agree to meet? The result is akin to an orphan given away at birth trying to organize their first family reunion; while mostly fascinating yet periodically tedious to watch, is this really as innocent as it all sounds, or is it just the next step logical step in YouTube-like self-promotion and instant fame gratification?

Jim Killeen seems to be a likable guy. He’d have to be, of course, especially since he’s simultaneously both the subject and star of his own documentary. Aside from the self-admitted classic rookie mistake of casting yourself in your first film, Jim claims at the beginning that he does not consider himself a filmmaker. A better decision was putting the bulk of the little money he had to shoot with into a professional film crew to rove and capture the experience that, if successful, could well span the globe. The result is as interesting as it is self-indulgent, but you can’t help but think, “Hey, why didn’t *I* think of that?” just before you also tell yourself, “Would I even have the guts to try?”

Jim’s journey indeed takes him from his native Los Angeles to various places around the globe, finding a handful of willing participants each with their own stories, professions, and lifestyle choices. Since the discovery of these things is the meat and potatoes of the film, I won’t reveal them here. It’s no secret, however, that Jim’s initial concept met with some degree of success due to the fact the film even exists. Jim also documents his legal and financial difficulties in getting the film made as he moved forward with the project, a part of which led to a meeting with (and stamp of approval from) Google itself.

While the idea itself is fascinating, the technology that made it possible is still in its infancy and is improving at a geometric rate. Everything accomplished in this film may be repeated just a few years from now on a lazy Saturday afternoon with a web cam by someone still in their pajamas (copy, edit, and burn). For now, the travel to the meetings and the anticipation of who these other namesakes are make for an interesting documentary. Working against the finished product is the overlong ending where all the Jim Killeens converge in celebration coupled with more than a little self promotion (along with a few facts that might have changed our initial impression of the “reluctant” filmmaker had we know such things earlier on). All things being equal, however, even Peter Jackson was forgiven a few indulgent extra bows at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King when his little film project became a success, right?

(a three skull recommendation out of four)


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