Documentaries rely on enlightenment rather than entertainment. As long as they’re informative, competently made, and don’t shame me too much, I’m a cheap date for the medium. It’s a pain staking process to make one. Where a narrative feature has a shooting ratio around 6:1 and a script with a beginning, middle, and end (most of the time), documentaries shoot passed 100:1 and are partially blind to the full arch or purpose of the material. Rough, right? But once in a while a documentary emerges that is as entertaining as it is enlightening. One such documentary is “Tickled.”
“Tickled” follows a New Zealand journalist (David Farrier) and his attempts to unearth the mysteries of an online tickling competition. While looking for a new story, he discovers videos of young men tickling each other for “Jane O’Brien Media.” To his surprise, the response to his interview requests were vitriolic emails riddled with hate speech. Mr. Farrier is gay, but the response was utterly shocking seeing how the content seemed so…gay (joke stolen from Farrier).
After some digging, it turns out that this tickling empire is a global mystery filled with millions of dollars, blackmail, and false identities. Transfixed by this injustice, David Farrier vivaciously pursues this story all while becoming the victim of harassment and legal threats. Can you blame him? The idea of a corrupt “tickle” racket is so ridiculous it invites investigation.
“Tickled” is a wonderfully tailored expose on the “Jane O’Brien Media” tickle fetish videos. Even though the crew members are characters in their own project, it’s not out of vanity. The threats made upon their investigation made them participants. For something that looks so innocuous, the leader of this tickle business makes it insidious. It doesn’t have to be. It’s a fetish. But the grinding friction against the film crew escalates the subject into a hard boiled criminal investigation.
There are a lot of themes present in “Tickled.” Some are established from the beginning while others blossom along with the mystery. As the investigation is gradually revealed to us, the tone of the movie evolves. What starts as a off-beat editorial on silly web videos, we finish with a harsh editorial on the corrupt manipulation of a perverse force with deep pockets.
All-in-all, “Tickled” is an immersive documentary that doesn’t exploit it’s subjects or material. That’s a massive accomplishment in that the subject matter is a nefarious tickling business. It’s a documentary that moves well, is never repetitive, and knows that story is just as important to information.
- There are some images that are a tad mellow dramatic.
- New Zealand’s filming laws sound pretty mellow.
- Sorry this reviews a tad shorter. Documentaries are harder to elaborate on.
WARNING!!! QUICK SPOILER REVIEW! WARNING!!!
Teenagers are paid to tickle each other and then are blackmailed. They thought the trafficker was a crazy lady but it was actually a fat spoiled bald guy. The end.