Have you ever gone Geocaching? Have you ever been around those who are crazy about the global GPS treasure hunting experience?
If so, then there's a good chance that World's Largest, an official selection of the 2010 Indianapolis International Film Festival in the feature-length doc category, will bring you to orgasm.
Okay, perhaps "orgasm" is a bit strong. However, World's Largest is a true cinematic delight featuring many of the feelings, thoughts and ideas that drive those who participate in geocaching...the opportunity to travel, to experience off the beaten path America and, on a really good day, to find some amazingly cool things that you may not have even known existed.
Virtually everyone has heard about such novelties as "The World's Largest Ball of Twine" or the Minnesota Paul Bunyan statue that found itself featured in the Coen Brothers' Fargo, but World's Largest and co-directors Amy C. Elliott and Elizabeth Donius go much further in their quest to document the sometimes amazing, sometimes sad and frequently Americana act of building smalltown America around something that is the biggest, most, widest, first, last, etc.
This is smalltown America at its quirkiest and most charming.
In a mere 75 minutes, Elliott and Donius document their several year adventure in traveling across America and documenting these roadside attractions that dot the United States landscape. While the filmmakers keep World's Largest light and energetic and filled with a wide assortment of delightful characters, there are moments in World's Largest that are stunningly touching and even rather indirect indictments of the U.S.'s current economic state and the sheer desperation that many small towns are experiencing in simply trying to survive.
With very few exceptions, the people, places and things featured in World's Largest are only temporary distractions for travelers and not, as many small towns had hoped, economic solutions and true tourist attractions. Travelers, whether they be geocachers or simply your ordinary traveler, pull alongside the road, take a photo and then move along to the next quickie distraction and temporary smile.
Yet, Elliott and Donius don't let World's Largest ever become a downer and, in fact, even during its more poignant moments it's impossible to not admire the spirit, optimism and drive of smalltown America.
A natural fit for any number of cable channels, most obviously Discovery, History or Travel, World's Largest is a delightfully entertaining, feel good and well constructed feature documentary that has also played at SXSW, the Philadelphia Underground Film Forum, Chicago Underground Film Festival and is currently continuing its film festival run.
For more information on World's Largest, visit the film's website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic