Heckler is a very interesting film, not for its content, but for the pretense of it being a documentary about comedians and hecklers. It is, in fact, an attempt to delegitimize film critics, and the opinions of anyone else who doesn’t like bad movies (especially Jamie Kennedy movies).
The first bit of the film is indeed about hecklers. A wide range of comedians are interviewed and share their experiences with being heckled. Most comedians interviewed are smart and professional about it. Of course, there’s one comedian who handles a poor crowd reaction by emphatically professing his wish that the audience gets cancer and dies; it is of note that this comedian was not remotely amusing to begin with.
The film then moves completely off the subject of hecklers, and sets its sights on film critics (which are absolutely not the same thing). Jamie Kennedy confronts several people who have written negative reviews on his work. I’m not sure what his intent was with these confrontations, but they made him look really unprofessional and pathetic. I get that bad reviews can hurt - putting something you’ve created out into the world is an act of bravery - but you won’t grow as a creator, nor gain respect or sympathy, by whining about people not liking your creations. Some of the professionals touch on this point by explaining that they learn and grow by being receptive to constructive criticism.
At one point some random guy tries to make a point about criticism having no perspective by quoting from a review for Piglet’s Big Movie that called the film juvenile; his point was that of course the film was juvenile, as it was for kids. This is so far from the mark that it’s bothered me ever since, as it presupposes that children’s films must be juvenile and cannot be smart, multilayered, and appeal to humans of all ages, like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
They then go on to not only write off professional critiques/bloggers, but anyone with an opinion. One guy’s (paraphrased) sample response to a laymen’s critique of their work is, “Well what films have you written and directed? None? Yeah I thought so. Fuck off.” Creating a film is not a prerequisite to judging a film. It is a prerequisite to being aware of the difficulties and challenges of making a film, but how difficult something is and how successful something is are completely different. If I carved a marble statue and it turned out shitty I could profess that it’s an incredibly difficult task, however, if something sucks it sucks.
Sure, it’s not fair to compare No Country For Old Men with Malibu’s Most Wanted, but that’s not the point, because on its own, Malibu’s Most Wanted is not funny or well executed. Comedies can be plenty goofy, silly, stupid, unbelievable, etc., and still be really good solid movies in their own right.
I’m extremely curious to know the reactions of some of the people that were interviewed for this movie, as they were essentially used as a front for Jamie Kennedy to whine. I can’t imagine Patton Oswalt watching Heckler and thinking, “I’m really happy they used my interview footage, as I stand firmly behind this film and its message.”
Ultimately I don’t care how good or bad a person is at making films or putting together a stand-up act, but to write off any and all negative feedback that comes your way is unprofessional, juvenile, and only hurts yourself.