Feels Good Man

Feels Good Man is a 2020 American documentary film about the Internet meme Pepe the Frog. Marking the directorial debut of Arthur Jones, the film stars artist Matt Furie, the creator of Pepe. The film follows Furie as he struggles to reclaim control of Pepe from members of the alt-right who have co-opted the image for their own purposes. The film premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and won a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker. It was also nominated in the U.S. Documentary Competition at Sundance.[1]

Feels Good Man
Feels Good Man poster.jpeg
Directed byArthur Jones
Produced by
  • Giorgio Angelini
  • Caryn Capotosto
  • Arthur Jones
  • Aaron Wickenden
Edited by
  • Aaron Wickenden
  • Drew Blatman
  • Katrina Taylor
Release date
  • January 27, 2020 (2020-01-27) (Sundance)
  • August 28, 2020 (2020-08-28) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

SynopsisEdit

Pepe the Frog, a character created by Matt Furie and first featured in a comic on MySpace called Boy's Club, is one of four twentysomething postcollegiate slacker friends who live together.[2][3] In one installment, Pepe is caught by one of his housemates with his pants around his ankles, urinating.[2] Asked why, he replies, "Feels good man".[2] The image becomes a viral Internet meme and is co-opted by the alt-right.[2][4]

Too late, Furie attempts to take Pepe back from the alt-right who have turned him from a cartoon character into a symbol for hate.[2] The film deals with the question of whether Pepe can be redeemed.[5][6][7]

DevelopmentEdit

Feels Good Man is the directorial debut of Arthur Jones.[4] Jones described the film as:[4]

The movie is really about him negotiating that uncomfortable reality for himself, [...] Matt’s personal journey really makes the movie really unique that I hope a lot of people find satisfying for a lot of reasons.

Jones, who was also film editor, finished the edit two days prior to the premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.[4] He described the editing process as a "slow-rolling panic attack", but said he was looking forward to showing the film at the festival.[4]

ReleaseEdit

As of early February 2020 the film was seeking distribution.[8] It also appeared as part of PBS's Independent Lens.[9] In October 2020, it was broadcast by the BBC as part of its Storyville series[10]

Critical responseEdit

 
Pepe the Frog as a graffiti alongside the quote "Give me liberty or give me death", which was used in the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests.

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 96%, based on 80 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The website's consensus reads, "A cautionary tale on internet culture, Feels Good Man is a compelling look at an artist's journey to salvage his creation."[11] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 79 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[12]

Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com wrote: "Jones' movie is a beacon of internet literacy about a whole new language—that memes are flexible, omnipotent, and pieces of a phenomenon more powerful than their creators".[5] Daniel Fienberg, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, said: "Feels Good Man is terrific at building up to its argument. It doesn't make me understand the apparently lucrative phenomenon of Pepe-currency or rare Pepes, but otherwise most of the lines it draws through online train wreck culture and shifts in mainstream culture are clear, harrowing and appropriately cautionary".[6]

David Ehrlich of the IndieWire wrote: "There's only so much anyone in his position could've done, but Jones' entertaining documentary also hints at how open-source ideation cuts both ways. If it's true that nobody owns anything on the internet, that means nobody owns anything on the internet—not Matt Furie, and not the trolls who took Pepe away from him".[7] Nick Schager wrote for Variety: "Driven by Ari Balouzian and Ryan Hope's alternately playful, anxious and mournful score, Feels Good Man offers an inside peek at the internet's growing ability to affect and shape modern society, which often makes the film a nightmare about extremism and technology".[3]

Vox Media's Polygon called it "the most important political film of 2020".[8]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Feels Good Man won a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker at the Sundance Film Festival.[13][14] It was also nominated in the festival's U.S. Documentary Competition.[15]

Award Year Category Result Ref(s).
Cleveland International Film Festival 2020 Ad Hoc Docs Competition Nominated [16]
Sundance Film Festival U.S. Documentary Competition Nominated [15]
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker Won [13]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Feels Good Man Trailer #1 (2020)|Movieclips Indie on YouTube
  2. ^ a b c d e Gidney, Norman (30 January 2020). "Feels Good Man | Film Threat". FilmThreat. Archived from the original on 4 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b Schager, Nick (27 January 2020). "'Feels Good Man': Film Review". Variety. Archived from the original on 4 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e Hoyt, James (27 January 2020). "Pepe documentary 'Feels Good Man' reveals the struggle of the man behind the frog". Park Record. Archived from the original on 4 February 2020.
  5. ^ a b Allen, Nick. "Sundance 2020: Spree, Feels Good Man | Sundance | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Archived from the original on 4 February 2020.
  6. ^ a b Fienberg, Daniel. "'Feels Good Man': Film Review | Sundance 2020". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 4 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b Ehrlich, David (28 January 2020). "'Feels Good Man' Review: Pepe the Frog Creator Matt Furie Tries to Redeem Internet's Most Racist Amphibian". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 4 February 2020.
  8. ^ a b Patches, Matt (4 February 2020). "The new doc Feels Good Man tells the truth about Pepe the Frog". Polygon. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  9. ^ FEELS GOOD MAN|Films|Battle to Take Pepe the Frog Back|PBS
  10. ^ Storyville - Pepe the Frog: Feels Good Man, retrieved 18 January 2021
  11. ^ "Feels Good Man". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  12. ^ "Feels Good Man (2020) Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  13. ^ a b Hipes, Patrick (2 February 2020). "Sundance Film Festival Awards: 'Minari' Scores Double Top Honors – The Complete Winners List". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  14. ^ Debruge, Peter (2 February 2020). "Sundance Winners: 'Minari' and 'Boys State' Take Top Honors". Variety. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  15. ^ a b "'20 Sundance Film Festival – U.S. Documentary Films". sundance.org. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Ad Hoc Docs Competition - Cleveland International Film Festival :: April 7 - 18, 2021". www.clevelandfilm.org. Retrieved 12 March 2020.

External linksEdit