True Stories (1986)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Americana, Satire, Ensemble Film, Parody/Spoof  |   Release Date - Oct 10, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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The opening sequence of True Stories concerns a history of a fictional town in a humorous mix of footage detailing the humble beginnings of the Indians' wide open prairie land up until the building of major expressways. Whether or not to like this kind of comedy depends on one's tolerance for the deadpan humor of David Byrne and the music of his band the Talking Heads. Supposedly composed of actual stories from supermarket tabloids, these character snippets create an exaggerated exposé of American life. Nothing is really true about the town of Virgil, TX; it seems more like a creation of what a big city college rock musician thinks of average American quirks. Luckily, that big city college rock musician is David Byrne, who narrates the film from a properly outsider perspective wearing cartoonish Western garb and addressing the audience directly from his cherry red convertible. John Goodman also looks right into the camera, and he does amazingly well with the amount of screen time his stereotyped character is given. Fans of the Talking Heads will most likely enjoy the moments of spontaneous music videos -- especially their hit "Wild Wild Life" -- as well as the other musical interludes of fake elevator music and odd sounds from collaborator Meredith Monk. Those that can appreciate Byrne's creative costuming and musings on things like the role of architecture in commercial culture will probably like True Stories, many others may find its heavy-handed artistic agenda to be stifling.